Rwanda: Micomyiza Appears in Court, Denies Genocide Crimes

Prosecution on Monday, May 16 arraigned Jean-Paul Micomyiza, who is accused of participating in the Genocide against Tutsi in 1994.

Micomyiza was recently extradited from Sweden, at the request of Rwanda.

The prosecution accuses the 49-year old of various charges including murder, complicity to commit genocide, rape, causing permanent injuries, and crimes against humanity.

All these crimes were committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, mainly in the former Butare prefecture.

Micomyiza was accompanied by three lawyers who immediately raised two obstacles and requested to suspend the hearing.

His lawyers said he is detained illegally in Nyarugenge Prison (Mageragere) instead of being in Nyanza prison (Mpanga) according to provisions of the law governing extradition of genocide suspects from different countries.

The lawyers then said that since their client is being detained at Nyarugenge prison, he should have been arraigned at Nyarugenge primary court, and not one of Kicukiro.

However, the prosecution requested the judge to ignore these obstacles and proceed with the pre-trial hearing, accusing their opponents of delaying the case, saying that Nyarugenge has a holding cell for such suspects and this is in accordance with the law.

The prosecution further said that according to the law determining the jurisdiction of courts, this court has competence to hear this case.

After listening to both sides, the presiding judge resolved to proceed with the session arguing that the concerns by defence will be analysed in the substantive trial.

The prosecution was then given the time to state the case they have against Micomyiza.

Prosecutors then said that they have evidence to the effect that the suspect, who was a student at the University of Rwanda in Huye, committed Genocide crimes, mainly in Southern Province.

According to the witness accounts, they saw the suspect several times killing the Tutsi and raping women including fellow students.

He was engaged in various attacks that killed the Tutsi for instance, the prosecution cited the attack on the home of one Protais Nyandekwe where individuals identified as Rutayisire and Karori, who was killed with three children.

Prosecution added that Micomyiza, who was a second year student, was a ‘patron’ of a mob called ‘Comité de Crise’ which was created at the University of Rwanda that played a big role in identifying the Tutsi students in the university, before they were hunted and killed.

Micomyiza denied all accused charges arguing that he was not Interahamwe and never belonged to any political party during the Genocide.

He added that he might have been confused with someone else adding that he has never been in some of the places the prosecution mentioned and he doesn’t know the victims in question nor the witnesses among other reasons.

His lawyer also requested the court to grant him bail arguing that the testimonies presented by the prosecution are confusing and inconsistent among other reasons.

However, the prosecution requested to remand him arguing that he might interfere with investigation, escaping justice, and threatening the witnesses.

The court will rule on the bail application on Thursday, May 19.

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