Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, a former officer in the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF), today pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of responsibility for the murder of ten Belgian soldiers of the UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda) peacekeeping mission, and the former Rwandan Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, in April 1994 in Rwanda. The plea was entered during his initial appearance before Trial Chamber 1 composed of Judges Laïty Kama (presiding), Lennart Aspegren and Navanethem Pillay.
The charges state that Ntuyahaga was responsible for disarming and arresting the ten Belgian soldiers who were sent to escort the Prime Minister, before they were killed. "Immediately thereafter, members of the Presidential Guard, the Para-Commando Battalion and the Reconnaissance Battalion proceeded to track down, arrest, sexually assault and kill the Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana".
By preventing the UNAMIR personnel from protecting and escorting the Prime Minister, Ntuyahaga, is alleged to have facilitated her assassination.
It is also alleged that after their arrest the Belgian soldiers were taken to Kigali camp by Ntuyahaga in a Rwandan Army minibus. On arrival at the camp, the accused addressed the Rwandan soldiers who were there and asserted that the Belgian soldiers were responsible for the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana. Immediately thereafter, the UNAMIR soldiers were attacked and beaten by Rwandan soldiers in the presence of Rwandan Army officers including Ntuyahaga. Four of the Belgian soldiers were killed on the spot, and the remaining six withstood several attacks for a number of hours before finally being killed.
All these actions, it is alleged, were part of a systematic attack against a civilian population on political or national grounds and thereby constituted a Crime Against Humanity.
Bernard Ntuyahaga was born in 1952 in Kibingo, Mabanza commune, Kibuye prefecture and was a major in the Rwandan Army. From May 1994 he assumed command of the 74th Battalion in Kigali sector. He surrendered himself to the Tribunal on 8 June 1998. The accused is defended by Counsel Georges Komlavi Amegadjie from Togo, who has been assigned by the Registrar. Questioned specifically by Judge Kama if he consented to having the assigned counsel as his lawyer, the accused responded, "yes I do".
A status conference will be held later to fix the date of his trial.
Director of U.S. Defence Intelligence Visits the ICTR
The Diredor of the United States Defence Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Patrick Hughes, visited the ICTR in Arusha on 11 November 1998. General Hughes accompanied by his wife and several aides, met with the President of the ICTR, Judge Laïty Kama, and was later briefed by senior officials of the Tribunal on its operations. The U.S. Defence Intelligence Chief concluded his visit with a meeting with the Tribunal's Registrar, Mr. Agwu Ukiwe Okali. General Hughes expressed his appreciation of the legal precedents established by the recent verdicts of the ICTR for the crime of genocide. "The work of this Tribunal is of tremendous historic significance", he stated.