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Trial of Mikaeli Muhimana Begins at ICTR

The trial of Mikaeli Muhimana started on 29 March 2004 before Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Muhimana, a former councilor of Gishyita sector in Kibuye Province is charged with four counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, and rape and murder as crimes against humanity. Muhimana pleaded not guilty to all counts at his initial appearance before the Tribunal on 30 January 2004.

Muhimana is accused of participating in the massacre of thousands of victims at several locations in Kibuye Province including in area churches. The indictment against Muhimana charges that he personally attacked and killed civilians seeking refuge in Mubuga and Mugonero churches and in the hills of Bisesero. In his opening statement, ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar. Jallow, said his office would present evidence that Muhimana, “killed, he got others to kill, he raped violated and sexually assaulted women in furtherance of his genocidal intentions,” and got others to do the same in the plan to destroy the Tutsi as a group. Muhimana was a businessman before he was elected councilor of Gishyita sector in 1988. He was arrested on 8 November 1999 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and transferred to the UNICTR detention facility in Arusha.

The trial is being conducted in Trial Chamber III composed of Judge Khalida Rashid Khan of Pakistan (presiding), Judge Lee Gaciuga Muthoga of Kenya and Judge Emile Francis Short of Ghana. Muhimana is represented by James Nyabirungu Mwene Songa and Kazadi Kabimba both from democratic Republic of Congo. The commencement of the Muhimana trial brings the number of accused whose trials are being heard to 21. So far, the Tribunal has delivered judgments involving 21 accused, of whom 18 have been convicted and three acquitted.

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