Simon Bikindi, a popular Rwandan music composer and singer and former director of the performance group Irindiro Ballet, today pleaded not guilty to charges of committing crimes of genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Bikindi entered the plea when he made his initial appearance before Judge Pavel Dolenc (Slovenia).
Bikindi, 48, is charged with five counts of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity for murder and persecution.
The accused who was also an official in the Ministry of Youth and Sports and a member of the Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Développement (MRND) political party in 1994, is alleged inter alia to have composed and performed songs which mobilised and incited the Interahamwe and civilians to kill and destroy Tutsis.
The Prosecution alleges that Bikindi participated with others in planning, instigating and preparing the killing of Tutsis apart from playing a major role in recruiting and training the Interahamwe to commit the crimes.
He is also alleged to have ordered and supervised the killing of Tutsis fleeing to the former Zaire and warned that Hutus helping them should also be killed. In one incident Bikindi is alleged to have ordered the Interahamwe to take a group of Tutsi women that were trying to escape to Zaire and kill them.
Bikindi was arrested in Leiden, The Netherlands on 12 July 2001 by the Dutch authorities at the request of the Tribunal and, on 27 March 2002, was transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania. During his initial appearance the accused was assisted by Duty Counsel appointed by the Registrar. No date has yet been set for the commencement of his trial.