The Trial of Ignace Bagilishema, a former Bourgmestre of Mabanza will open on 27 October 1999 before Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda composed of Judges Erik Møse (Norway), presiding, Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) and Mehmet Güney (Turkey).
Bagilishema (45), defended by Counsel François Roux (France) and Diabira Maroufa (Mauritania), is facing seven counts charging him with genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions. He pleaded not guilty to all the counts when he appeared before the same Trial Chamber on 18 September 1999. Earlier on that day the Trial Chamber ruled in favour of motions by the Prosecutor for severance and amendment of the initial indictment, containing 13 counts, which had jointly charged the accused with seven other persons. The accused pleaded not guilty to the initial indictment on 1 April 1999.
The accused is alleged to have murdered, assisted in murdering and conspired to murder thousands of Tutsis in Mabanza, Gitesi, Gishyita and Gisovu communes within Kibuye prefecture.
Early in the trial the Judges of the Trial Chamber, in the presence of the Prosecution and Defence lawyers, will visit and inspect certain sites of the alleged massacres. This will be the first visit to Rwanda of the Judges of the ICTR acting in their judicial capacity.
On 13 February 1999, Bagilishema, who was then in the Republic of South Africa, agreed to surrender himself to the custody of the Tribunal. On 20 February 1999, the Tribunal served him with a warrant of arrest in Pretoria. He was transferred to the Tribunal Detention Facilities in Arusha the same day.