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Trial of Father Nsengimana Commences

The Trial of Hormisdas Nsengimana, a priest who was formerly Rector of Christ-Roi College in Nyanza, Nyabisindu Commune in Butare Prefecture, today began with the Prosecution stating that it will submit evidence establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of genocide, murder and extermination against the Tutsi ethnic group. The Prosecution made the submision during its opening remarks before Trial Chamber I composed of Judges Erik Møse, presiding, Sergei Alekseevich Egorov and Florence Rita Arrey.

In her opening remarks, the Chief of Prosecution Ms. Silvana Arbia said that 24 Prosecution Witnesses will be called to prove the prosecution case. Witnesses will come from members of the clergy who have opted to tell the truth on what happened; members of the Hutu ethnic group who were employees of the College and some being accomplices; victims and survivors of the mass attacks; former students of the College; and experts and analysts who will put the activities of the accused in context during the period charged in the indictment.

Nsengimana, 53, is alleged to have been among the organisers of the slaughter of Tutsis in Nyanza, Butare in 1994. He is accused of playing a leading role in a group of killers called Les Dragons (The Dragons) or Escadrons de la Mort (Death Squad) which allegedly played a crucial role in the killing of Tutsis in and around the Christ-Roi College and in other parts of Butare Prefecture. He is also alleged to have worked closely with soldiers in the prefecture to commit the crimes.

Further, the accused is alleged to have been instrumental in the killing of several Tutsi priests from his college. In one incident he allegedly gave some money to some people to get information about the whereabouts of three Tutsi priests who had fled the Christ-Roi College. After being informed of their whereabouts, Nsengimana informed his co-perpetrators who went and took the three and killed them.

Counsel, David Hooper ( England), for the accused, told the Trial Chamber that Nsengimana disputes each and every allegation made against him. He further stated that the accused was also caught up in the dreadful events of 1994; he lost members of his family and several friends; and that this trial will vindicate him.

On 24 April 2007, during a further appearance, Nsengimana pleaded not guilty to three counts charging him with genocide, murder and extermination as crimes against humanity. The accused was arrested in Yaoundé, Cameroon on 21 March 2002 and transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha on 10 April 2002.

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