Rwandan Genocide Suspect rejects lawyers, prosecution says


Bernard Munyagishari

Bernard Munyagishari

For the second time during his trial Genocide suspect, Bernard Munyagishari has rejected defense counsel provided by the Rwanda Bar association, prosecution has said.

The prosecution in the case said the suspect has refused to take up the solicited defense counsel and that his case should proceed without a defense team.

Prosecution told a Kigali court Wednesday  that through the Rwanda Bar Association, they had provided the suspect with new lawyers; Bruce Bikotwa and Jeanne d’Arc Umutesi after  fell out with his previous attorneys Jean Baptiste Niyibizi and John Hakizimana.

Prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa told court that it is the right of the suspect to have defense counsel but it is not proper to reject all the lawyers provided, thus the case must proceed as soon as possible without defense team for the suspect.

“We want court to consider the request of having the case tried without a defense team, because we see that the suspect has intentionally, denied the available options and delayed the case,” Ruberwa said.

However, Munyagishari refutes the prosecution’s claims saying that the lawyers declined the case instead.

The court adjourned the case until July 15, when the lawyers will tell their side of the story.

Munyagishari is accused of Genocide crimes in which he allegedly planned and played a role in the killings in 1994, conspiracy in Genocide, rape and crimes against humanity.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Munyagishari was arrested in May 2011 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), following an arrest warrant issued by the ICTR, and later held at tribunal.

In July of 2013 he was transferred to Rwanda after the tribunal approved his extradition.

The suspect has in the past refused to speak in court saying he didn’t understand Kinyarwanda and claiming to be Congolese. He has denied he is Rwandan saying his ordeal is due to a mistaken identity.

Prosecution alleges Munyagishari took part in training and arming Interahamwe militia in the Genocide and among other crimes led them to rape and kill Tutsi women in Northwestern Rwanda.