NYANZA- Judges from Trial Chamber1 of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on yesterday conducted a site visit in a case involving Fr. Hormisdas Nsengimana who was formerly the rector of Christ-Roi College in Nyanza.
Nsengimana was arrested March 21, 2002 in Cameroon. He is charged on three counts of Genocide, murder and extermination as crimes against humanity. He pleaded not guilty on all counts.
The trial chamber led by presiding Judge Erik Møse from Norway and other members; Sergei Alekseevich Egorov and Florence Rita Arrey visited the alleged crime sites at Christ-Roi Parish, Christ-Roi College and other sites mentioned by defence and prosecution counsels.
At the Christ-Roi College, prosecution counsels Wallace Brian and Jane Mukangira showed places where roadblocks were mounted and where Fr Nsengimana allegedly handed over one Jean Furaha to his killers.
The members of the trial chamber also visited sites where other people were killed and their bodies dumped. It is alleged that Jean Furaha had sought refuge at Fr Nsengimana’s house, only to be turned away.
It is also alleged that Fr Nsengimana escorted him out of the house towards the roadblock where he handed him over to Gendarmes and was subsequently killed.
The defendant is also said to have had a role in the death of Fr Mathieu Ngirumphatse and three others; Frs Kallixite Uwitonze, Innocent Nyangenzi and Jean Bosco Yirirwahandi.
Members of the trial chamber visited the place where Fr Mathieu was allegedly killed and the site where the other three are buried.
The team also visited the site of the Presbytery Mill where Tutsi women were separated from the Hutu and the former killed and their bodies dumped in a nearby pit latrine.
During the site visit at Christ-Roi Parish, defence counsel Emmanuel Altit from France and prosecution counsel Brian Wallace from Jamaica disagreed a lot about the places where road blocks were allegedly mounted during the Genocide at the Parish.
The Defence case commenced on 2 June 2008 where the Chamber heard twenty-two defence witnesses, including Fr Nsengimana, over 20 trial days. It closed its case on July 11, 2008.
The parties are expected to present their oral arguments in November this year. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was established for the prosecution of persons responsible for Genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 1994.
Since its inception, the ICTR has made 74 arrests and completed 35 cases. It has also had high profile acquittals. These include the acquittal of Emmanuel Bagambaki, the former Prefect of Cyangugu; Ignace Bagirishema, former bourgmestre of Mabanza in Kibuye Prefecture; and Jean Mpambara, former Bourgmestre of Rukara commune in Kibungo prefecture.
However, Felicien Kabuga, one of the key masterminds of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda still remains elusive despite a US$5 million bounty put on his head by the United States Government to anyone who provides information leading to his arrest.
The ICTR is expected to close shop December this year.