Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, the Genocide suspect who was arrested in France in October 2007, yesterday made his initial appearance at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The former junior Prefect of Gisagara in Butare pleaded ‘not guilty’ before Judge Khalida Rashid Khan from Pakistan to the three counts of genocide, complicity in genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
Following his arrest in France, Ntawukuriryayo lost his extradition battles in French courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights.
He was transferred from France to the ICTR Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania last Friday. He is defended by Francois Roux from France.
An ICTR indictment states that Ntawukuriryayo “instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of crimes of genocide against Tutsis in Butare prefecture.”
The tribunal has a mandate to try the most senior suspects of the Rwandan Genocide while suspects on lesser charges can be transferred to other national jurisdictions.
But it is not clear why the same court allowed a senior government official, Laurent Bucibaruta, former governor of Gikongoro and implicated in the Murambi massacres on 11 April which claimed over 50,000 victims, to stand trial in France.
Ntawukuriryayo is alleged to have contributed to the killings at Kabuye hill, where as many as 25,000 Tutsi refugees were killed between 21st to 25 April 1994.
He is also said to have addressed several meetings in Gikoro, Mudabori and Nyaruhengeri where he, among others, promised to reward those who would kill the greatest number of Tutsis with houses, land and money.
In a related incident, the ICTR last Friday turned down the second request by the prosecution to transfer genocide suspect Gaspard Kanyarukiga to Rwanda.
Kanyarukiga, a former businessman in Kibuye and Kigali prior to 1994, is charged on four counts of genocide, or in the alternative complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.
A trial chamber comprising Judges Erik Möse from Norway, Sergei Alekseevich Egorov of Russia and Florence Rita Arrey from Cameroon, cited the same reason given by the ICTR’s refusal to transfer another businessman-cum-politician, Yusuf Munyakazi, to Rwanda late May.
Kanyarukiga was arrested in South Africa in July 2004; he is accused of genocide, or in the alternative, complicity in genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity. He is alleged to have committed the crimes in Kibuye.