Munyakazi faces new charge, enters not guilty plea

Genocide suspect Leopold Munyakazi, who was last month deported from the United States, was on Tuesday arraigned before the Nyarugunga Primary Court where he was charged with five counts related to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Genocide suspect Leopold Munyakazi, who was last month deported from the United States, was on Tuesday arraigned before the Nyarugunga Primary Court where he was charged with five counts related to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The 66-year old university professor was charged with committing genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination and genocide negation.

 

The crimes, according to prosecution, were committed in 1994 while genocide negation was committed later in the US where he had acquired asylum.

 

Munyakazi entered a not guilty plea.

 

Submitting its evidence, yesterday, prosecution prayed court to remand the suspect for 30 days pending further investigations.

According to the prosecution, Munyakazi who was an MDR (Democratic Republican Movement) party leader in his home commune of Kayenzi, --currently Kamonyi Distric – before the Genocide, on April 19, in 1994 convened a meeting during which he incited people to get rid of the ‘enemy’; the Tutsi.

Court heard that following his speech, residents immediately started to torch houses belonging to Tutsi neighbours.

There were also killings often committed by militia gangs on direct orders from Munyakazi, prosecution charged.

Prosecution also accuses Munyakazi of abandoning a certain Gertrude Kamagaju, a young Tutsi woman who had sought refuge in his house, to be killed by one Gabriel Murekezi, a former gang leader of Interahamwe militia.

The latter, who testified yesterday against Munyakazi, is currently serving his jail term over genocide crimes.

Prosecution also alleges that Munyakazi led a group of armed men who stormed the house of one Felicien Ugirashebuja who was at the time the head teacher of Gataba Primary School.

Ugirashebuja had sneaked out of his house only to die at the hands of another group of killers under the supervision of Munyakazi, according to prosecution. 

Based on witness testimonies, prosecution argued that Munyakazi masterminded mass killings of Tutsi in his home area, and had confessed during police investigations that he owned two firearms – a pistol and an AK 47 – during the Genocide.  

Yesterday, court also heard that while giving a lecture in Maryland in the US, as a one of key speakers at a certain conference, Munyakazi reduced the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi to mere social conflict between Hutu and Tutsis.

Prosecution said they had evidence on YouTube and in newspapers.

“These are sufficient grounds to warrant detention of Leopold Munyakazi for 30 days as we proceed with our investigations,” the prosecution prayed court presided by Judge Alexandre Sibomana.

Munyakazi, who appeared without a lawyer, asked court to ensure his submissions are captured on video for purpose of clarity and accuracy.

Munyakazi has unsettled contract issues with his lawyer, Justin Rushikama who had been availed to him by the Rwanda Bar Association, according to prosecution.

The suspect can qualify for free legal services if he submitted a formal request to the Bar and proved that he’s indigent.

Hearing continues Thursday when court is expected to rule on prosecution’s request to remand the suspect.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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