ARUSHA - The trial of Jean Baptiste Gatete, the former Mayor of Murambi Commune, now in the Eastern Province is expected to begin tomorrow at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The charges Gatete faces include; Genocide, crimes against humanity, and direct and public incitement to commit Genocide.
The accused, according to an ICTR schedule, will appear before trial chamber III, composed of presiding judge Khalida Rachid Khan, Lee G. Muthoga and Aydin S. Akay.
Gatete, 56, was the fourth on the list of the five Genocide suspects whom the ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow had requested that they be transferred to Rwanda as part of the ICTR completion strategy.
Although Rwanda has shown notable progress in improving its judicial system, Presiding judge, Erik Mose, last November rejected the application, saying that the chamber was not satisfied that the infamous Gatete would receive a fair trial in the country.
Other applications that were rejected on almost similar grounds are of former commander of Ngoma Camp Ildenphonse Hategekimana, former businessmen Gaspard Kanyarukiga and Yusuf Munyakazi, some of whom have already started their trials at the ICTR.
Who is Gatete?
Gatete was born in 1953 in Murambi commune in the prefecture of Byumba, Rwanda and educated as an agricultural engineer.
He was the Mayor of Murambi from 1987 to 1993 and Member of the National Congress of the MRND (National Republican Movement for Development and Democracy).
In 1993 Gatete was released from his mayoral duties, but still continued to exercise a certain degree of authority over the communal police, the gendarmerie and the militia in the prefectures of Byumba and Kibungo.
From the 6 April to the last few days of April 1994, Gatete is accused of waging a campaign of terror against the Tutsi population in the then Prefectures of Byumba and Kibungo.
In his role as leader of the Interahamwe, he is accused of supervising, directing and ordering massacres of Tutsis in his commune of birth, especially in the parish of Kiziguro.
He is reported to have participated directly in these operations.
More specifically, the Interahamwe militia, on his orders, are accused of massacring thousands of Tutsis who had sought refuge in the parishes of Rukara, Kiziguro and Mukarange.
The mayor of Rukara, Jean Mpambara, with whom Gatete is reported to have conducted the massacres in this commune, is also being held by the ICTR.
Gatete was arrested on 11 September 2002 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and on 13 September 2002 he was transferred to the UN detention facility in Arusha.