The trial of Siméon Nchamihigo, former Deputy Prosecutor in Cyangugu Prefecture, began today before Trial Chamber III composed of Judge Charles Michael Dennis Byron (presiding), Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam and Judge Robert Fremr.
Nchamihigo who was also the Secretary for the Coalition pour la Défense de la République (CDR) in Cyangugu Prefecture in 1994 , is charged with four counts, genocide, extermination, murder and other inhumane acts as crimes against humanity. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges on 29 June 2001 during his initial appearance.
In the prosecution’s opening statement to the Chamber, Senior Trial Attorney Alphonse Van said that despite his position as a Rwandan prosecutor and judge, Nchamihigo allegedly recruited, armed and ordered the Interahamwe militia to massacre Tutsi civilians and moderates from the Hutu opposition who he considered traitors and accomplices of the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
The Prosecutor argued that Nchamihigo allegedly wore a military uniform and carried a weapon as he participated in a campaign with military and militia leaders in Cyangugu to exterminate the Tutsi. The prosecution said it will show that Nchamihigo collaborated in a joint criminal enterprise with Samuel Imanishimwe, a military commander already convicted by the Tribunal and with Yussufu Munyakazi, an alleged Interahamwe leader, who is awaiting trial.
The Prosecutor alleges that on numerous occasions in 1994, Nchamihigo distributed weapons and ordered the killing of Tutsi civilians, including a priest who was killed in his presence in May 1994 at a roadblock. Nchamihigo also allegedly rewarded members of the Interahamwe with food and beer for participating in the massacres.
The prosecution plans to call 30 witnesses to prove its case.
Nchamihigo was arrested in Arusha by Tanzanian authorities on 19 May 2001 at the request of the ICTR Prosecutor. He was transferred to the Tribunal's Detention Facility on 25 May 2001.
The accused is represented by Denis Turcotte from Canada. Turcotte said he intends to demonstrate his client’s innocence.