ARUSHA – The former Mayor of Kivumu commune, Western Province Gregoire Ndahimana, yesterday made his initial appearance at the International Criminal; Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and pleaded not guilty.
This comes after his transfer a week ago from Democratic Republic of Congo where he had been arrested on a warrant issued by the UN court.
He was charged by prosecution of four counts that include; Genocide, alternative complicity in Genocide, conspiracy to commit Genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.
The Genocide suspect entered a not guilty plea yesterday during his initial appearance in a session that was presided over by Judge Rachida Khalida Khan.
Judge Khan called the short and stout suspect to the witness box from where a staff from the ICTR registrar’s office - Edward Mantengare read out the indictment to him.
Flanked by his counsel, Ndahimana kept saying, “Not guilty,” to all the counts the judge read out to him.
According to the indictment, Ndahimana is responsible for killing and causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the Tutsi population in Kivumu now in the Western Province.
It also states that sentenced clergyman - Athanase Seromba - made a list of Tutsis refugees who were absent at the Nyange parish and handed it over to Ndahimana for the purpose of hunting them down.
Seromba is currently serving a life sentence after the appeals chamber commuted his earlier 15-year sentence to the heaviest punishment the court can give.
The indictment also implicates Ndahimana in a joint criminal group that comprises of Seromba, Gaspard Kanyarukiga and Fulgence Kayishema.
“They held regular meetings at the Nyange parish and they agreed on a common strategy to exterminate Tutsis in Kivumu commune,” the indictment states.
By yesterday, the court was yet to come up with the date on which the suspect will begin his trial.
Ndahimana was arrested by DRC forces on August 11, in a village in North Kivu Province, and a month later transferred to the Arusha based tribunal after lengthy negotiations between the Congolese government and the ICTR.