The High Court Chamber for International Crimes (HCCIC), Nyanza District, will on Tuesday, July 5, start the substantial trial hearing for the case of Venant Rutunga, who is suspected of Genocide crimes.
Rutunga, 72, is charged with three counts: Genocide, complicity in committing Genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity.
Rutunga, who was the former regional director of ISAR Rubona, an agricultural research institute located in the southern district of Huye, formerly known as Butare Prefecture, was extradited from The Netherlands on July 26, last year.
He appeared for the first time before court on August 12 last year, where he was seeking bail.
However, on August 17, the court denied him bail arguing that there are enough reasonable grounds to suspect him of having committed the crimes for which he is being prosecuted.
According to the prosecution, he is said to have committed the alleged crimes mostly between April 26 and 30, 1994 in Butare (current Huye District) where he was working.
During a bail hearing, prosecutors outlined to court several actions by the defendant during the genocide that led to the loss of many lives – especially former employees of the institution he was leading.
Among these, they accused him of having participated in the killing of Epaphrodite Kalisa and George Ndamaje, two Tutsi employees at ISAR, when he instructed the Gendarmes (policemen) to hunt and kill them.
The prosecutors also pinned him on, among others, an incident where he allegedly drove and went to meet the then Prefect of Butare, to request for armed policemen to assist in killing the Tutsis who had successfully defended themselves against the Interahamwe, among others.
In his defence however, Rutunga denied the charges, saying he did not commit the crimes of which he is being accused.
He said that while he knew Ndamage and Kalisa, he never took part in their killing, arguing that those that killed them were tried and sentenced.
He admitted that he went to meet with the Prefect of Butare and requested policemen, but the aim was not to kill Tutsis, but rather, “to defend ISAR from attacks by intruders” because he had learned that there was an imminent attack that would happen among others.
Rutunga is currently detained at Nyarugenge prison commonly known as Mageragere.