Rwanda soldiers deny murders
21/08/2008 11:58 - (SA)
Kigali - Two Rwandan army officers, a general and a major, pleaded not guilty to the murder of 13 senior Catholic clergy, mainly Hutus, during the 1994 genocide, at a military tribunal in Kigali on Wednesday.
Two other officers - both army captains - pleaded guilty during their first court appearance in June and again on Tuesday before the military court.
All four defendants were arrested in June after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said Tutsi rebels led by Paul Kagame had murdered the 13 clergymen on June 5 1994.
But a lawyer for the two other officers accused of complicity in the killings - general Wilson Gumisiriza and adjutant Wilson Ukwishaka - said each had denied any responsibility.
"Our position is that the responsibility for the order for which our clients are being prosecuted has not been established," said lawyer Me Rutabingwa.
"There is no proof at all that they knew that their men were going to shoot these clergymen," the lawyer added.
Kagame, now Rwanda's president, led the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) that fought to end the genocide in 1994 and has been in power since.
The victims, including an archbishop and several bishops, were nearly all from the Hutu majority that perpetrated the genocide against minority Tutsis.
The Tanzania-based ICTR is investigating and bringing to justice suspects involved in the genocide.The United Nations estimates that some 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu extremists in Rwanda, between April and July 1994.
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