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Trial of Singer Bikindi Begins

The trial of well known singer and composer of popular music, Simon Bikindi, 52, today commenced before newly composed Trial Chamber III, comprising of Judges Inés Mónica Weinberg de Roca, presiding, Florence Rita Arrey and Robert Fremr. Bikindi was also an official in Ministry of Youth and Sports and a member of the Mouvement Républicain National pour le Développement et la Démocratie (MRND) political party in Gisenyi prefecture.

In his opening statement the Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow stated that Bikindi through the lyrical content of his music, consciously and deliberately assisted in executing the plan to exterminate Tutsis. The vehicle was his music whereby the youth including members of his ballet, were mobilised to commit atrocities and join the Interahamwe. In addition it was alleged that Bikindi was aware of the powerful messages of hate in his music and used his fame to promote hatred and death. Justice Jallow stated that Bikindi not only contributed to the atrocities through his music but partook in the extermination plan himself. It was explained that the witnesses in the case would include survivors, victims and accomplices. The Prosecution further called its first witnesses.

The accused made his initial appearance before the Tribunal on 04 April 2002. In the amended indictment dated 15 June 2005, Bikindi was charged with six counts: conspiracy to commit genocide; genocide; or alternatively complicity in genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; murder as a crime against humanity; and persecution as a crime against humanity. Bikindi has pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

The accused, who was also the director of the performance group ‘Irindiro Ballet’ allegedly, conspired with the political leadership of MRND to eliminate the Tutsi population. Prior to the events of April 1994, Bikindi reportedly participated in the recruitment and training of the Interahamwe militias knowing these activities were aimed at the eradication of Tutsi’s.

The accused was arrested in the Netherlands on 12 July 2001 and transferred to the Tribunal’s detention facility (UNDF) on 27 March 2002. The accused is represented by Wilfred Nderitu (Kenya) and Jean de Dieu Momo (Cameroon).

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