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Rwanda war crimes suspect stands trial in Canada

[JURIST] The trial of Desiré Munyaneza [Trial Watch profile] began Monday in Montreal where the former Rwandan militia commander faces seven charges in connection with the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; BBC backgrounder], including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The first witness, who remained anonymous for her protection, testified [Montreal Gazette report] Monday that Munyaneza, a Hutu, assisted in rounding up Tutsi men to be killed. The trial marks the first war crimes trial to take place in Canada in 15 years and the first criminal charges tried under the country's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act [text] that was passed in 2000.

The trial follows five weeks of preliminary hearings in Rwanda. Munyaneza faces life imprisonment for each charge and, if convicted, he most likely will be imprisoned in Canada. Munyaneza lived as a fugitive in Canada from 1997 until his capture by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) [official website] in 2005. He filed for refugee status in 1997, but the Canadian government rejected his claim in 2000 as well as two subsequent appeals before his 2005 arrest and arraignment. CTV News has more.

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