The trial of Ildephonse Nizeyimana, former second-in-command in charge of intelligence and military operations at ESO (Ecole des Sous Officiers) began on 17 January 2011 before Trial Chamber III composed of Judges Lee Gacuiga Muthoga, presiding, Seon Ki Park and Robert Fremr.
The Prosecution, in its opening remarks, told the Trial Chamber that it will present evidence to prove that the accused was among key officers of the Rwanda Armed Forces who played crucial roles in the implementation of genocide from its inception through to its conclusion.
Senior Trial Attorney Drew White told the Trial Chamber that the accused could have exercised his authority and his influence to save lives of Rwandan citizens, but he chose otherwise. That choice was premised on his individual acceptance of a collective genocidal philosophy that extended throughout Rwanda. In that philosophy of genocide the accused did not act alone. “And you are going to hear evidence as to who participated with him and how he cooperated with other persons,” the Prosecution stated.
In response, Defence Counsel John Philpot (Canada) told the Trial Chamber that he will contest all the factual allegations against the accused. He added that Nizeyimana was not influential as alleged and was not the de facto Commander of ESO. Actually he said the war in Rwanda was not a war against Tutsi, and it has never been. Rather the war was with an army with a political mission.
Nizeyimana, who was initially jointly charged with two others, Tharcisse Muvunyi (sentenced to 15 years) and Ildephonse Hategekimana (sentenced to life imprisonment), is facing four counts of genocide, or in the alternative complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity (rape) and crimes against humanity (other inhumane acts).
According to the indictment, Nizeyimana, through the chain of command, is alleged to have exercised authority over soldiers and personnel at the camp and was perceived as a member of the elite inner circle (Akazu) of the late President Habyarimana.
Nizeyimana is alleged to have planned, incited to commit, ordered, committed, or in some other way aided and abetted the planning, preparation of executions he is charged with. He is also alleged to have known, or had reason to know, that his subordinates were preparing to commit or had committed one or more of the crimes and failed to take the necessary and reasonable measurers to prevent the said acts from being committed or to punish those who were responsible.
Nizeyimana was arrested in Kampala, Uganda on 5 October 2009 and was transferred to UN Detention Facility in Arusha on 6 October 2009.