The trial of Bizimungu et al formerly referred to as “Government II” opened today before Trial Chamber II, composed of Judges Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana (Presiding), Khalida Rachid Khan, and Lee Gacuiga Muthoga. The trial involves four Rwandan former ministers in the Interim Government of Rwanda from April to July 1994, Casimir Bizimungu (Health); Justin Mugenzi (Trade and Industries); Jerôme Bicamumpaka (Foreign Affairs and Cooperation) and Prosper Mugiraneza (Civil Service). They are jointly accused of genocide and crimes against humanity.
“They took part in the formulation and supported the adoption and implementation by the Interim Government of decisions, policies and directives for the perpetration of the killing of Tutsis,” said the Prosecutor in the opening statement. He added that all four accused did not disassociate themselves from or disavow the policies of the Interim Government.
The accused are jointly charged with nine counts of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit to genocide and crimes against humanity. It is alleged that, as members of the interim government, they incited people to eliminate the enemy and its accomplices and distributed weapons to them. As part of that government, they allegedly also dismissed local government authorities who opposed the massacres and replaced them with others who were devoted to the cause.
After the opening statement, the trial continued with the hearing of the first Prosecution witness. The Prosecutor, Mr. Hassan Bubacar Jallow, was assisted by Chief of Prosecutions, Ms. Melanie Werret, and the Senior Trial Attorney, Paul Ng’arua, who made the opening statement on the behalf of the Prosecutor.
Casimir Bizimungu, 52, who was a medical doctor, was arrested in Kenya on 11 February 1999 and transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF) in Arusha on 23 February 1999. During his initial appearance on 3 September 1999 he pleaded not guilty to all the counts. Jerôme Bicamumpaka, 45, Justin Mugenzi, 54, and Prosper Mugiraneza 45, were arrested in Cameroon on 6 April 1999 and transferred to the UNDF in Arusha on 31 July 1999. During their joint initial appearance on 17 August 1999 they also pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
Casimir Bizimungu is represented by Counsel Michelyne C. St. Laurent of Canada, Justin Mugenzi by Howard Morrison of United Kingdom, Jerôme Bicamumpaka by Pierre Gaudreau of Canada and Prosper Mugiraneza by Moran Tom of U.S.A.