19 December 2012

Rwanda: Judgment Thursday On Former Rwandan Planning Minister

Photo: http://www.irinnews.org
Skulls of genocide victims at a memorial (file photo).

Arusha — The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will on Thursday hand down a verdict in the genocide trial of former Rwandan Planning Minister Augustin Ngirabatware. His is the last first-instance case before the Tribunal, which must complete all its work by the end of 2014.

Ngirabatware was Planning Minister in the interim government in place during the 1994 genocide. He had held that position in various governments from 1990. The former minister is not accused of killing with his own hands but rather of abusing his position to plan the murder and rape of Tutsis and incite Hutus in his native prefecture of Gisenyi to carry them out.

The indictment describes Ngirabatware as an academic and influential person in Rwanda at that time. He not only headed a key ministry with significant funds, but is also the son-in-law of wealthy businessman Félicien Kabuga, the ICTR's most wanted fugitive.

Ngirabatware is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide -- or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide--, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity. In support of the conspiracy charge, the prosecutor alleges his participation in five meetings in February and March 1994 where it was agreed that Tutsis should be killed.

Other allegations against him include transporting and distributing arms in his commune of Nyamyumba in April and May 1994 and holding meetings at which he incited militiamen to kill Tutsis. He is also accused of responsibility in three rapes by Interahamwe militia. The ex-minister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He claims he never set foot in his native commune throughout the genocide.

Ngirabatware was arrested in Germany on September 17, 2007 and transferred to ICTR custody in Arusha, Tanzania, on October 8, 2008. His trial began on September 22, 2009.

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