Belgium braced for major Rwanda war crimes trial
3 May 2005
BRUSSELS – Two men accused of helping to organise the 1994 genocide in Rwanda are due to stand for crimes against humanity next week in a Brussels court, the Belga news agency reported on Tuesday.
An estimated 800,000 people were massacred in the 1994 genocide committed by the majority Hutus against the minority Tutsis in the Southeast African nation and former Belgian colony.
The trial of the two Rwandan men apprehended in Belgium is scheduled to begin in Monday in Brussels Cour d’assises court and could last up to seven weeks.
The testimonies of up to 170 witnesses could be heard in the case.
Etienne Nzabonimana, 54, was apprehended by Belgian authorities on 14 October 2002 in the Brussels commune of Schaerbeek.
The one-time wealthy beer wholesaler settled there after fleeing Rwanda in the wake of the massacres he is accused of having actively supported.
Samuel Ndashyikirwa, 43, was apprehended on 4 December 2002 in Antwerp. He had obtained refugee status in Belgium under the false name of Samuel Manzi.
Both men were influential citizens of the Kibungo prefecture in the southwest of the country at the time of the massacre.
Nzabonimana, a member of the country’s ruling MRND party, was one of several managers of the ‘club Kibungo’.
It prepared for the extermination of Tutsis and opposition Hutus several months before the massacre began in the region on 7 April 1994.
Some 50,000 people were killed shortly thereafter in Kibungo.
After this initial round of killing, Nzabonimana was known to have kept in contact with military officials organizing more massacres in Kibungo.
Small trucks from his business were used to ferry their armed men to new killing sites.
Ndashyikirwa was a local businessman on a smaller scale than Nzabonimana at the time of the massacre.
Based in the village of Kirwa, which is also Nzabonimana’s hometown. He ran two small bars in Kirwa and had two vehicles, which made him a figure of local renknown.
Several witnesses have accused him of preparing the genocide in Kirwa and supporting the local militia in carrying it out.
Some put him on the scene of the massacres. He has denied these accusations, but his excuses have varied markedly.
In the French and Belgian legal systems, the most serious types of offences, including rape, murder and counterfeiting of legal tender, are heard by the Cour d’assises and a popular jury largely made up of randomly called upon citizens.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject : Belgian news