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Rwamakuba Trial Starts in His Absence

Today, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) began the trial of André Rwamakuba, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education in the Interim Government during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. He was also a member of the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR). Rwamakuba refused to attend the proceedings but the presiding judge ordered the trial to continue despite his absence.

An amended indictment charges Rwamakuba with : genocide or altenatively, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity (murder, extermination). In his further initial appearance on 21 March 2005, Rwamakuba pleaded again not guilty to all the charges.

ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, made an opening statement before Trial Chamber III outlining the historical context for the crimes with which Rwamakuba is charged. Trial Attorney Dior Fall said the Prosecution would present evidence that the accused conspired with other government officials in developing a plan to remain in power by exterminating the civilian Tutsi population and members of the Hutu opposition. In executing the plan, Rwamakuba allegedly organized, ordered and participated in the massacres of the Tutsi population and of moderate Hutu.

In April and May 1994 Rwamakuba, a physician, allegedly checked the identities of patients at the National University hospital in Butare and ordered the selected Tutsi patients to be forced into vehicles and taken away. Those people were never seen again. Rwamakuba also allegedly led massacres on the hospital premises. According to his indictment, Rwamakuba struck wounded patients with clubs and allowed the militiamen accompanying him to kill women and disembowel those who were pregnant.

Rwamakuba was arrested on 21 October 1998 in Windhoek, Namibia and transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha two days later.

Trial Chamber III is composed by Judge Charles Michael Dennis Byron (Saint Kitts and Nevis), presiding, Judge Karin Hökborg ( Sweden), and Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam ( Burkina Faso).

Rwamakuba is represented by David Hopper ( United Kingdom).

For information only - Not an official document

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