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Vincent Rutaganira pleads not guilty

Vincent Rutaganira, former Councillor of Mubuga, Gishyita Commune, Kibuye prefecture, today appeared before Judge Andrésia Vaz and pleaded not guilty to seven counts charging him with being involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Rutaganira, who is assisted by a Duty Counsel, is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, crimes against humanity for murder, extermination and other inhumane acts and violations of the Geneva Conventions. The crimes are alleged to have been committed in Kibuye prefecture between 9 April and about 30 July 1994.

According to the indictment, the accused is alleged to have participated with others in killing Tutsis and other civilians who had sought refuge in a church in Mubuga. The men, women and children had sought refuge in the church following attacks on Tutsis, which had occurred throughout the Prefecture of Kibuye.

The accused allegedly committed the crimes together with several people including Ignace Bagilishema, whose case is pending before the ICTR Appeals Chamber, Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana, who have already been convicted by the Tribunal and have been transferred to serve their sentences in Mali.

It is also alleged that Rutaganira and his group directed members of the Gendarmerie Nationale, communal police, Interahamwe and armed civilians to attack the church.

In addition, each member of the group is alleged to have personally participated in the attacks. The attackers used guns, grenades, machetes, spears, pangas, cudgels and other weapons to kill the people in the church. According to the indictments the attacks continued for several days since not all people could be killed at once.

Rutaganira surrendered to the Tanzanian authorities in Kigoma, Western Tanzania and was transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha on 4 March 2002. No date has yet been fixed for the commencement of his trial.

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