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Rwandan Accused Pleads Not Guilty To Genocide

At UN Tribunal, Brother-In-Law Of Late Rwandan President Pleads Not Guilty To Genocide

A brother-in-law of the Rwandan president whose plane was shot down by so far unidentified assailants in April 1994 today pleaded not guilty before the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) to charges of having planned and participated in the subsequent genocide, as well as in extermination and murder as crimes against humanity.

The accused is Protais Zigiranyirazo, a brother of President Juvénal Habyarimana's widow, Agathe Kanziga. He served in Mr. Habyarimana's Second Mouvement Républicain National pour le Développement et la Démocratie (MRND) government from 1974 to 1989 as a senior official of the northern Ruhengeri prefecture before becoming a prominent businessman in the Giciye commune.

The amended indictment of 5 November 2003 says Mr. Zigiranyirazo, also known as Mr. Z (Monsieur Zed), conspired with his sister and other powerful ethnic Hutus in the Government "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the Tutsi ethnic group" and facilitated attacks on the minority group in 1994, particularly between 6 April 1994 and 17 July 1994.

Along with Wellars Banzi and Bernard Munyagishari, he was also "instrumental in initiating the formation of the Interahamwe in Gisenyi," the charges said. The Interahamwe is a Hutu militia said to have spearheaded the massacres and its refugees are accused of having spread turmoil in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Among the Tutsis Mr. Zigiranyirazo is accused of having ordered killed were more than 30 members of the Sekimonyo family, who had sought refuge in Mr. Habyarimana's home in Karago commune, and 18 members of the Bahoma Tutsi clan who were his own in-laws and who had sought his protection in his Giciye residence, the indictment says.

Mr. Zigiranyirazo was arrested at the airport in Brussels, Belgium, on 26 July 2001 and was transferred that October to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania.

More than 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis and but also moderate Hutus, were murdered in Rwanda between April and June 1994. In the aftermath, internal and refugee displacement led to the deaths of a much greater number of people.

© Scoop Media

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