Protais Zigiranyirazo, a former member of the Akazu, the inner circle of the late President of Rwanda, Juvénal Habyarimana, today pleaded not guilty to two counts charging him with extermination or alternatively with murder as crimes against humanity. The accused, a brother of President Habyarimana’s wife, Agathe Kazinga, entered the plea when he made his initial appearance before Judge Navanethem Pillay (South Africa), President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
The indictment alleges that during the events of 1994 Zigiranyirazo, 63, also known as “Mr Z”, joined with others including Hassan Ngeze, Joseph Nzirorera and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, who are already in the custody of the Tribunal, in the planning and ordering of the genocide.
In particular he is accused of having planned and facilitated the killings between April and July 1994 by collaborating with regional and local officials in the distribution of arms, by the ordering of roadblocks and subsequent killings.
The Prosecution alleged that the accused ordered or authorized roadblocks to be established in direct proximity to each of his three residences in Kiyovu (Kigali), Gasiza (Giciye) and Gisenyi town where several Tutsis were later killed.
For example, during May 1994, Zigiranyirazo allegedly ordered his son Jean-Marie-Vianney Makiza to kill three gendarmes who had been detained at a roadblock in Giciye, that was located opposite his residence.
Before entering his plea the accused requested that he be provided with reports on investigations concerning the plane crash which caused the death of President Habyarimana, his brother-in-law, as well as a younger brother. He said that he could not have a fair trial unless the causes of that crash were investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.