Arusha — A Swede of Rwandan origin, Stanislas Mbanenande, went on trial Friday on charges of taking part in the killings of tens of thousands of people during the 1994 genocide in his homeland, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
This is the first such case in the Nordic country. The 54 years old Hutu is charged with genocide and crimes against international law and faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Mbanenande, a civil engineer from western Rwanda, was formally charged on November 5, with genocide, including the crimes of murder, attempted murder and abduction. He is alleged to have taken part in massacres between April 12 and June 30, 1994 that left thousands dead.
The French news agency quoted the indictment describing Mbanenande as having taken an "informal role as a lower-level leader among young Hutus who sympathised with, or came to sympathise with, Hutu extremism."
It also states that his leadership status was borne out by the fact that he possessed an automatic firearm, which he is said to have fired into crowds. Mbanenande allegedly murdered or recruited young men to take part in massacres.
He has denied all charges following his arrest in December last year under an international arrest warrant. Mbanenande has been in Sweden since 2007, when he joined his family and obtained a residency permit on family reunification grounds.
Mbanenande was born on August 26, 1958, in the Rwandan prefecture of Kibuye, where he was working as a teacher in 1994.His trial is expected to last until May 2013. It is said that certain sessions would be held in Rwanda using the country's newly acquired videoconference technology.
Rwanda had wanted to try the case, but Swedish authorities rejected its extradition request on grounds that the accused had obtained Swedish nationality.
Mbanenande was tried in absentia by a gacaca semi-traditional court in his Rwandan home village, and sentenced to life in jail in 2009. But Swedish law does not recognize the gacaca courts.