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Trial of Callixte Nzabonimana Commences

The Trial of Callixte Nzabonimana, Minister of Youth during the genocide, today began before Trial Chamber III of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda composed of Judges Solomy Balungi Bossa, presiding, Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov and Mparany Rajohnson. Nzabonimana is facing five counts charging him with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity for extermination and murder.


In its opening remarks the Prosecution told the Trial Chamber that it will bring evidence to prove that many Tutsis were killed following Nzabonimana’s orders, adding that the accused whom it described as the “butcher of Gitarama” decided knowingly to participate in the planned genocide with other authorities using state machinery.


Senior Trial Attorney, Paul Ng’arua stated that further evidence will prove that the accused was a person of great influence in Gitarama prefecture and Rwanda in general and people followed his orders. But instead of acting to protect the population he decided to deliberately participate in the massacres.


The lead Defence Counsel, Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse (France), told the Trial Chamber that she would prove that some of the allegations against his client were not true because, for example, at the time the Prosecution alleges the accused was inciting the massacres, his client had sought refuge at the French Embassy in Rwanda like other ministers.


According to the indictment, Nzabonimana was, in Gitarama Prefecture, allegedly the primary force behind attacks on, and dismissals of, bourgmestres who refused to carry out the Government’s directives. After their dismissal, at least some of these bourgmestres were killed.


Nzabonimana was arrested in Kigoma, Western Tanzania, on 18 February 2008 and was transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha immediately after. His initial appearance before the Tribunal was on 20 February 2008.

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