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The Trial of Tharcisse Muvunyi Begins

The Trial of Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi the former Commander of the Rwandan military school, Ecole des Sous-officiers (ESO), began today before Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda with the prosecution’s opening statement.

The accused, 52, is charged with five counts including genocide, or complicity in genocide, (as an alternative to the genocide charge), direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity (rape and other inhumane acts). According to the indictment, Muvunyi was part of the military and political operation which incited the population, armed them and encouraged massacres against the Tutsi and moderate Hutus.

Trial Chamber II composed of judges Asoka De Silva (Sri Lanka), presiding, Flavia Lattanzi (Italy), and Florence R. Arrey (Cameroon) heard Mr. Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Prosecutor of the ICTR, argue that the accused played a pivotal role in killing thousands of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Butare Prefecture in 1994.

According to the Prosecution, the evidence will show, after testimony by witnesses and experts, that the accused encouraged soldiers and militia to kill more than 100,000 Tutsi in Butare Prefecture.

The Defence team, headed by Mr. W. E. Taylor (USA), denied all the allegations against the accused and argued that the accusations are not mentioned in the indictment.

Tharcisse Muvunyi was arrested in the United Kingdom on 5 February 2000 and transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania on 30 October 2000. He made his initial appearance at the Tribunal on 8 November 2000 and pled not guilty to all charges against him.

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