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Trial of Yussuf Munyakazi Starts

The trial of Yussuf Munyakazi, former businessman in Bugarama commune (Rwanda) opened today before Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) composed of Judges Florence Rita Arrey Presiding, Mparany Mamy Richard Rajohnson and Aydin Sefa Akay.

In its opening statement, the Prosecution described Yussuf Munyakazi as “a villain; the devil who stripped his victims of everything it meant to be human”. Richard Karegyesa, for the Prosecution, added that, “The Prosecutor shall prove in the coming weeks by direct and circumstantial evidence that Munyakazi was not a stranger to the criminal enterprise and that he executed its objectives with great efficiency, in person and in concert with other members of the criminal enterprise with whom he shared the intend to commit genocide and extermination.

The evidence will show a leader in full control of events rather than a reluctant or unwilling participant by forces beyond his control”. The Defense will make its opening remarks when it begins its case. The trial is taking place at the ICTR following the denial, by Trial Chamber III on 28 May 2008, of an application by the Prosecutor for referral of the case to Rwanda. On 9 October 2009 the Appeals Chamber upheld the decision

. Both Chambers cited serious concerns about the rights of the accused and his getting a fair trial in Rwanda as well as the independence of its judiciary. Yussuf Munyakazi was jointly indicted in 1997, with Emmanuel Bagambiki and Samuel Imanishimwe. In 2000, the Trial Chamber granted the severance of his case, and the indictment was subsequently amended in 2002, charging the Accused for genocide and alternatively complicity in genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity.

The accused was arrested on 5 May 2004 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and transferred to the UN detention facility in Arusha on 7 May 2004. During his initial appearance on 12 May 2004, Yussuf Munyakazi pleaded not guilty to charges brought against him by the Prosecutor that he participated in the1994 Rwanda genocide.

The accused is represented by Jwani Mwaikusa (Tanzania) and Richard K. Kabimba (Congo). The Prosecution team is composed of Richard Karegyesa, Segun Jegede, Didace Nyirinkwaya & Dennis Mabura, Assistant Trial Attorney.

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