New genocide trials open in Rwanda
2 former officials enter pleas; cases adjourned
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December 30, 1996
Web posted at: 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT)
KIGALI, Rwanda (CNN) -- Two former government officials will
face trial in their native Rwanda for their alleged role in
the 1994 slaughter of half a million people. Both appeared
in court on Monday for the first genocide trials in the
Rwandan capital but their cases were immediately adjourned.
The trial of Silas Munyagishali, a former state prosecutor,
was adjourned to an unnamed date in 1997 and was moved to the
town of Gitarama south of Kigali, court officials said.
The trial of Theodomir Ruzirabwoba, a former administrator
in Kigali, was adjourned until January 3 to allow lawyers for
his alleged victims more time to compile evidence.
Munyagishali is accused of helping organize Hutu civilian
militias responsible for the massacres in Kigali of thousands
of minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.
The prosecution was required by law to move Munyagishali's
trial so that the former Kigali prosecutor is not tried in a
jurisdiction where he had practiced.
Ruzirabwoba faces charges of committing acts of genocide and
crimes against humanity. He allegedly organized Hutu
militias in Mbogo, a suburb of Kigali. He is also charged
with leading massacres against Tutsi civilians in 1992 and
1993, before the 90-day genocide that lasted from April
to July 1994.
Ruzirabwoba's attorneys said they only gained access to case
materials on December 17 and requested more time to review
them. Both men entered pleas, saying they were innocent of
Up to six people could stand trial in Kigali this week, said
Rwandan Deputy Justice Minister Gerard Gahima.
Verdict in 2 other cases due soon
The first genocide trials in Rwanda opened on Friday in the
southeastern town of Kibungo, where Deo Bizimana, a former
medical assistant, and Egide Gatanazi, a former local
administrator, both pleaded not guilty to organizing
The court adjourned until January 3 to reach a verdict.
More than 85,000 suspects are crammed into local jails,
awaiting possible prosecution. So far, all the suspects
scheduled for trial were on a government list of 1,946 people
believed to have orchestrated the genocide.
All face the death penalty and are not allowed to plea
bargain. Those who confess to following orders to kill will
be offered leniency and a maximum seven-year sentence.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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