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Nzabirinda pleads not guilty to four counts

Joseph Nzabirinda, former organiser of youth movement in Ngoma Commune, Butare Prefecture, today pleaded not guilty to four counts charging him with crimes of genocide he allegedly committed in Rwanda in 1994. The accused entered the plea when he made his initial appearance before Judge Lloyd George Williams, President of Trial Chamber III.

Nzabirinda, 45, is charged with genocide, or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity for extermination and rape. The crimes are alleged to have been committed in Sahera, Ngoma Commune, Butare prefecture.

The accused, who was born in Sahera, is alleged to have committed the crimes together with Joseph Kanyabashi, the bourgmestre, who is currently on trial before the ICTR in the "Butare" case.

Nzabirinda is alleged to have invited Tutsi refugees and others from Ngoma commune to seek refuge at Kabakobwa hill telling them their safety would be assured there. Soon thereafter soldiers and Interahamwe arrived and launched a massive attack on the Tutsi resulting in thousands of deaths. He is also alleged to have hunted down the survivors and killed them. It is alleged that the girls and women amongst the survivors were raped before being killed. Nzabirinda himself is accused of raping several Tutsi girls in Sahera sector before they were killed.

The accused was transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha (Tanzania) on 20 March 2002 from Brussels, Belgium, where he was arrested on 21 December 2001.

Nzabirinda was formerly a defence investigator working for the defence team of Sylvain Nsabimana, former prefect of Butare, who is currently on trial with five other accused in the "Butare Case" before Trial Chamber II of the ICTR. (See Press release no. 309).

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