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Former Rwanda official pleads guilty to complicity in genocide

[JURIST] A former Rwandan government official pleaded guilty [press release] Thursday to one count of complicity in genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website]. Michel Bagaragaza [ICTR materials; Trial Watch profile] accepted charges that he funded, trained, and provided weapons to the Interahamwe [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], an extremist Hutu militia that was responsible for the deaths of thousands of ethnic Tutsi during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder]. Prosecutors submitted an amended complaint with the plea agreement that withdrew genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide charges against the former director general of OCIR-Tea [official website], the agency which oversees Rwanda's tea industry. A sentencing hearing is planned for November 2.

Bagaragaza was transferred [JURIST report] in May 2008 to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, after a Dutch court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to try his case. In August 2007, the ICTR revoked [JURIST report] a previous order transferring Bagaragaza's case to a local court in the Netherlands after the country expressed doubt that its court system could handle the trial. In 2006, the ICTR denied [JURIST report] prosecutors' request to transfer Bagaragaza's trial to Norway because Norway did not have a specific law against genocide. Bagaragaza surrendered [JURIST report] to the ICTR in August 2005.

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