The trial of former Rwandan army officer, Lt. Colonel Aloys Simba, began today with the Prosecution’s opening statement. The Accused, aged 62, is charged with four counts: genocide, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity (extermination and murder). These crimes were allegedly committed during massacres in two provinces in southern Rwanda. The Accused has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
This morning, Trial Chamber I, composed of Judges Erik Møse (Norway), presiding, Sergei Alekseevich Egorov (Russia), and Dennis C. M. Byron (St. Kitts and Nevis) heard the Deputy Prosecutor, Bongani Majola, argue that the Accused played a pivotal role in the killings of thousands of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Gikongoro and Butare prefectures. According to the Prosecution, the evidence will show that the Accused planned, ordered, instigated and committed the killings in these two prefectures. It is alleged that the Accused was in charge of civil defence in this area between May and June 1994.
The Prosecution claimed that even though the Accused retired from the military in 1994, he exercised authority over Interahamwe militia, communal police and civilians participating in the massacres.
“You will hear evidence from Prosecution witnesses that Aloys Simba appeared at massacre sites in Gikongoro to re-supply militia with weapons to carry on the killing of Tutsi civilians”, the Deputy Prosecutor stated. He added that the Accused personally shot at and killed unarmed Tutsi civilians fleeing from the killers. According to the Prosecution, the criminal acts of the Accused and his co-perpetrators were not random or spontaneous acts but demonstrative of a meticulous plan to destroy the Tutsi population.
The Defence will make its opening statement at the commencement of the Defence case. In its reply today, the Defence denied all allegations against the Accused.
Aloys Simba was arrested in Senegal on 27 November 2001 and transferred to the UN Detention Facilities in Arusha on 11 March 2002. He is represented by Me. Sadikou Alao (Benin) and Beth Lyons (USA). The Prosecution is headed by Richard Karegyesa (Uganda).
So far, the Tribunal has handed down judgements involving twenty-three persons. In addition, twenty persons are presently on trial. Two trials involving five more accused are scheduled to commence in September 2004.