Rwanda: Genocide suspect non-committal in first court appearance

Rwanda’s top genocide suspect, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, declined to plead neither guilty nor not guilty to the genocide related charges in maiden court appearance Monday at a court in the capital Kigali.

Ntaganzwa, 53, who looked unbothered by the charges brought against him, refused to respond to most of the charges read to him at Nyarugunga lower instance court, and only responded by saying “No comments.”

Court asked Ntaganzwa, if he agrees that he prepared and planned killings which claimed over 20,000 victims, but responded by saying that “It requires thinking” and when court asked him to comment on the genocide meetings he chaired, he told court that he had no time for that.

Ntaganzwa faces charges of orchestrating and leading a massacre of thousands of Tutsi in Gasasa Hill, killing of fleeing Tutsi in Nkakwa sector, Tutsi killings in Maraba sector, killings in Nkomero Trading Centre, Kigembe commune and for ordering rape.

After getting no comments from the suspect, the prosecution asked court that Ntaganzwa is remanded for 30 days but the suspect still refused to respond when he was asked for comments.

On April 6, 2016, a day before Rwandans mark 22 years since the 1994 genocide, court will decide on the 30 day remand request by prosecution.

Ntaganzwa was on March 20th, 2016 extradited from neighbouring DR Congo where he had been hiding for the last 21 years.

The US has since welcomed his arrest and transfer to Rwanda saying “This transfer is a positive example of regional judicial cooperation and took place as a result of close coordination and consultation by the DRC government and the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) as well as other diplomatic partners”.

Ntaganzwa is the sixth suspect indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to be arrested by the Government of the DR Congo and transferred for trial.