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Belgian court to hear Rwandan genocide trial

Published on 27/04/2005

27 April 2005

BRUSSELS – More than 80 Rwandans are to be flown to Belgium next month to give evidence in the trial of two men accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide in the former Belgian colony.

Rwandan half brothers Etienne Nzabonimana and Samuel Ndashikirwa are being prosecuted in Brussels under Belgium´s controversial ‘universal competence’ law which allows suspects to be tried here for crimes committed abroad.

Fifty-four-year-old Nzabonimana and 44-year-old Ndashikirwa will be prosecuted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in a trial opening on 9 May.

They are both Hutu businessman from the Kibungo province, in south-eastern Rwanda, who have been held in Forest prison in Brussels since their arrest in Antwerp at the end of 2002.

On Wednesday, the news agency AFP reported that five Belgian investigators have spent the past two weeks in Rwanda preparing the case. Defence and prosecution lawyers had identified 117 witnesses they wanted to appear at the trial.

In total, they tracked down 105 witnesses, with “at least 80” agreeing to testify before the Belgian court, according to one of the investigators.

About 25 other witnesses cannot appear because they are in prison in Rwanda or on parole.

The Belgian government is to foot the transport and accommodation costs of bringing the witnesses to Brussels.

It is the second time a Belgian court will judge a case concerning the Rwandan atrocities in which some 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, were slaughtered.

In June 2001, four Rwandans, including two nuns, were sentenced to between 12 and 20 years for involvement in the genocide.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news