The trial of Jean-Baptiste Gatete, former Mayor of Murambi Commune in Byumba prefecture, began today with the opening statements of the Prosecutor and the Defence before Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, composed of Judges Khalida Rachid Khan, Presiding, Lee Gacuiga Muthoga and Aydin Akay. Gatete is charged with six counts of Genocide, or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide; crimes against humanity for extermination, murder and rape.
In its opening remarks, the Prosecution stated that it will call various witnesses and co-perpetrators who will testify and present evidence proving that the accused is individually responsible for the crimes alleged against him in the amended indictment dated 3 July 2009. Following the statement of the Prosecution, the Defence stated in its opening remarks that it will present evidence which will discharge Gatete and show that he is not the person described by the Prosecution.
Gatete is alleged to have led a campaign of terror against Tutsi civilians resulting in thousands of deaths in Byumba and Kibungo prefectures. “The accused killed persons by his own hand, specifically ordered killings by subordinates, and led attacks”, the Prosecution said. Under his command and direction, the Interahamwe militias are alleged to have massacred several thousand Tutsi civilians who had taken refuge in Kiziguro and Mukarange Churches, at Kayonza Commune and at the CERAI School in Rukira.
The accused was arrested on 11 September 2002 by the Congolese authorities acting on a warrant of arrest issued by the Tribunal on 19 December 2000. He was transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha on 13 September 2002 and pleaded not guilty to the previous ten counts contained in the first indictment on 20 September 2002 during his initial appearance. The Prosecution is led by Richard Karegyesa, Acting Chief of Prosecution, assisted by Trial Attorney Adelaide Whest; while the accused is assisted by Defence Counsel Marie-Pierre Poulain from France.