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Rwanda genocide trial for singer begins at ICTR

[JURIST] The trial of Simon Bikindi [ICTR case materials] began Monday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [official website; JURIST news archive] with prosecutors accusing the popular singer of "us[ing] his fame to incite hatred" during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder]. According to an ICTR press release [text]:

In his opening statement the Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow stated that Bikindi through the lyrical content of his music, consciously and deliberately assisted in executing the plan to exterminate Tutsis. The vehicle was his music whereby the youth including members of his ballet, were mobilised to commit atrocities and join the Interahamwe. In addition it was alleged that Bikindi was aware of the powerful messages of hate in his music and used his fame to promote hatred and death. Justice Jallow stated that Bikindi not only contributed to the atrocities through his music but partook in the extermination plan himself. ...

The accused, who was also the director of the performance group 'Irindiro Ballet' allegedly, conspired with the political leadership of MRND to eliminate the Tutsi population. Prior to the events of April 1994, Bikindi reportedly participated in the recruitment and training of the Interahamwe militias knowing these activities were aimed at the eradication of Tutsi's [sic].
Bikindi faces charges [indictment, PDF] of conspiracy to commit genocide; genocide, or alternatively complicity in genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; and murder and persecution as a crime against humanity. The singer has pleaded not guilty [trial minutes, PDF] to all charges.

Several radio broadcasters have been sentenced for incitement to genocide for supporting the airing of anti-Tutsi messages, including two Rwandan media executives who were sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] in 2003, and Joseph Serugendo, who was sentenced to six years [JURIST report] in June after entering a guilty plea. AP has more.

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