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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Ex-Rwandan minister on trial for genocide
Skulls of some of the victims
Some 800,000 people were killed in three months
The trial of a former Rwandan information minister accused of genocide opened on Monday.

Eliezer Niyitegeka, 50, was responsible for the state media which included two radio stations used to incite the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the 1994 massacres.


Incitement to massacre the civilian population over the radio airwaves... can be directely imputed to Eliezer Niyitegeka.

Indictment document
In addition to Mr Niyitegeka, 10 other ministers who served in the interim government set up after the killing of President Juvenal Habyarimana when his plane was shot down, are being detained or tried in Arusha, Tanzania.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced the prime minister of the same government, Jean Kambanda, to life imprisonment in 1998. He had pleaded guilty.

'Not guilty' plea

Eliezer Niyitegeka faces 10 charges, including genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct public incitement to genocide, and crimes against humanity, including murder and rape.

Bones of Rwanda genocide victims
Thousands of Tutsis were massacred in Butare province

The indictment says that "incitement to massacre the civilian population over the radio airwaves of Radio Mille Collines and Radio Rwanda can be directely imputed to Eliezer Niyitegeka for his failure to control the programming of the radio broadcasts, or to curtail the anti-Tutsi gendarmes".

Mr Niyitegeka has also been accused of being directly responsible for massacres committed at Bisesero between April and July 1994, and of raping and killing a Tutsi woman and encouraging others to do the same.

The defendant, who was arrested in Kenya three years ago, is pleading not guilty to all charges.

As the trial opened, a prosecuting investigator produced photographs of alleged crimes.

1994: The year of genocide
April
Rwandan President Habyarimana killed in plane crash
April - July
An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed
July
Tutsi-led rebel movement RPF captures Rwandan capital Kigali
July
Two million Hutus flee to Zaire, now the DRC
The high profile trial comes a day before the Rwandan Government inaugurates a new traditional court system known as gacaca, which allows normal Rwandans to try each other, and aims to clear the long list of unheard cases.

The backlog of suspects still awaiting trial is huge, with some 115,000 people reported to be still behind bars.

The ICTR in Arusha, which deals with some of the most serious crimes, has been heavily criticised by the Rwandan Government for its slow progress in bringing people to justice.

Since 1997 only nine trials have been completed - with eight convictions and one acquital.


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03 Apr 02 | Africa
12 Jun 02 | Africa
29 May 02 | Africa
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