[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] on Monday commenced the trial [press release] of Idelphonse Nizeyimana [BBC profile] on charges related to his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder]. Nizeyimana, nicknamed “Butcher of Butare” [RNW report], faces four counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity including rape and other inhumane acts. Specifically, Nizeyimana, while in charge of intelligence and military operations, allegedly exercised authority over soldiers and personnel and was a member of the elite inner circle of late president Juvenal Habyarimana [Britannica profile]:
Nizeyimana is alleged to have planned, incited to commit, ordered, committed, or in some other way aided and abetted the planning, preparation of executions he is charged with. He is also alleged to have known, or had reason to know, that his subordinates were preparing to commit or had committed one or more of the crimes and failed to take the necessary and reasonable measurers (sic) to prevent the said acts from being committed or to punish those who were responsible.
The prosecution alleges that Nizeyimana was among officers of the Rwanda Armed Forces who played key roles in the Rwandan genocide. Defense counsel contends that Nizeyimana was not as influential in authorizing the genocide as alleged and that he was not the de facto commander of military forces. Nizeyimana pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges in October 2009 just weeks after being arrested [JURIST report].
Nizeyimana was one of four top accused sought by the ICTR in order to complete its mission. The UN Security Council [official website] has extended the terms [JURIST report] for ICTR judges until they complete their cases. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has pledged his ongoing support [JURIST report] for the ICTR and stresses that the international community must continue to combat genocide. The ICTR was established to try genocide suspects for crimes occurring during the 1994 Rwandan conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in which approximately 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, died.