The trial of Augustin Ngirabatware, former Minister of Planning, began today before Trial Chamber II composed of Judges William Sekule, presiding, Solomy Balungi Bossa and Mparany Rajohnson. Ngirabatware, 52, is charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide; crimes against humanity for murder, extermination, rape, inhumane acts; and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II.
The Trial started with an opening statement by the Prosecutor during which he stated that he will prove individual responsibility of the accused in the crimes he is charged with. Senior Trial Attorney Wallace Kapaya told the court that the Prosecution will prove that Ngirabatware committed genocide or was involved in complicity in genocide. With his knowledge, his surbodinates committed specific criminal acts and he failed to prevent the commission of the crimes or punish his surbodinates for those crimes.
The senior trial attorney added that the Prosecution would also prove that the accused is individually, or pursuant to a joint criminal venture, responsible for killing or causing bodily or mental harm to members of the Tutsi ethnic group in Gisenyi prefecture, and for raping Tutsi women, as part of a widespread or systematic attack on civilians. The defence will present its opening statement at a later date.
The Prosecution plans to call 17 witnesses between now and 23 October 2009 to prove its case. It began by calling an Investigator from its office, who started his testimony by explaining the background to the case.
Ngirabatware was arrested in Frankfurt, Germany on 17 September 2007, and was transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania, on 8 October 2008. On 10 October 2008, the accused made his initial appearance and pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
Initially, Ngirabatware was jointly charged with Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, former Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research who, on 22 January 2004, was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for the remainder of his life, following dismissal of his appeal on 19 September 2005. The accused is defended by Counsel Peter Donald Herbert from the UK.