Rwanda: Trial of Idelphonse Nizeyimana Commences

Source ICTR – The  trial  of Idelphonse Nizeyimana, former second-in-command in charge of intelligence  and  military  operations  at  ESO (Ecole des Sous Officiers) began  on  17  January 2011 before Trial Chamber III composed of Judges Lee Gacuiga Muthoga, presiding, Seon Ki Park and Robert Fremr.

The  Prosecution,  in  its  opening remarks, told the Trial Chamber that it will  present  evidence to prove that the accused was among key officers of the  Rwanda  Armed Forces who played crucial roles in the implementation of genocide from its inception through to its conclusion.

Senior  Trial  Attorney  Drew White told the Trial Chamber that the accused could  have  exercised  his  authority  and  his influence to save lives of Rwandan  citizens,  but he chose otherwise. That choice was premised on his individual  acceptance  of  a collective genocidal philosophy that extended throughout  Rwanda.  In that philosophy of genocide the accused did not act alone.  “And you are going to hear evidence as to who participated with him and how he cooperated with other persons,” the Prosecution stated.

In  response,  Defence Counsel John Philpot (Canada) told the Trial Chamber that  he  will  contest all the factual allegations against the accused. He added  that  Nizeyimana  was  not influential as alleged and was not the de facto  Commander  of  ESO. Actually he said the war in Rwanda was not a war against  Tutsi, and it has never been. Rather the war was with an army with a political mission.

Nizeyimana,  who  was  initially jointly charged with two others, Tharcisse Muvunyi  (sentenced  to  15  years)  and  Idelphonse Hategekimana (trial in progress),  is  facing  four  counts  of  genocide,  or  in the alternative complicity  in  genocide, crimes against humanity (rape) and crimes against humanity (other inhumane acts).

According  to  the indictment, Nizeyimana, through the chain of command, is alleged to have exercised authority over soldiers and personnel at the camp and was perceived as a member of the elite inner circle (Akazu) of the late President Habyarimana.

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  to  prevent the said acts from being committed or to punish those who were responsible.

Nizeyimana  was  arrested  in  Kampala,  Uganda  on  5 October 2009 and was transferred to UN Detention Facility in Arusha on 6 October 2009.