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Rukundo Trial Starts

The trial of Emmanuel Rukundo, former Military Chaplain in the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) in Ruhengeri Prefecture, began today in accordance with Article 15bis of the Statute in the absence of Judge Taghrid Hikmet before Trial Chamber II. The Chamber is composed of Judges Asoka de Silva, presiding, Taghrid Hikmet and Seon Ki Park.

Rukundo was also the Military Chaplain in Kigali. He is charged with three counts of: genocide, crimes against humanity for murder, and crimes against humanity for extermination. He pleaded not guilty to all charges during his initial appearance of 26 September 2001.

In the presence of the Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Senior Trial Attorney William Egbe said in his opening statement that the Prosecution would establish Rukundo’s role in the 1994 events as openly extremist. He accused Rukundo of manifesting hatred for Tutsi in words and in actions. The Prosecution spoke of incidents at St. Joseph’s college in Kabgayi where the Tutsis would hide when they heard “the Priest was around”. This would be synonymous with the abduction and killing of the Tutsi. The Prosecutor accused Rukundo of being fully conscious of his power and authority and abusing it by promoting hatred, death and mass victimisation. The Prosecution spoke of Rukundo always being surrounded by armed soldiers and that he was always seen dressed in the military uniform. The Prosecution intends to call twenty-one factual witnesses and one investigator. The Prosecutor called its first witness today.

Responding to the Prosecutor, the lead counsel for the Defence, Aïcha Conde challenged the allegations made in the opening statement and denied that Rukundo was an extremist. The Defence clarified that it was usual for all military chaplains to be armed and to wear the military uniform.

Rukundo was born in 1959 in Gitarama prefecture. He was arrested in Geneva on 12 July 2001 and transferred to the UN Detention Facility on 20 September 2001.

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