Former Rwandan mayor arrested, transferred to UN war crimes tribunal

17 September 2002 –

A former mayor in Rwanda accused of recruiting and directing militia to commit genocide in 1994 has been arrested and transferred to the United Nations war crimes tribunal.

Jean-Baptiste Gatete, the former Mayor of Murambi Commune in Kibungo Prefecture, was transferred last Friday from the Republic of Congo to the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) detention facility in Arusha following his arrest last week by the Congolese authorities.

The indictment against Mr. Gatete contains 10 counts charging him with genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity for extermination, murder persecution and rape, and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.

According to the ICTR, despite his dismissal as Bourgmestre in 1993 amid allegations that he persecuted Tutsis, Mr. Gatete, 49, continued to exercise authority over police, gendarmes, and civilian militias in Byumba and Kibungo Prefectures. In preparing the murderous campaign, Mr. Gatete is said to have recruited, organized, trained and armed Interahamwe militias for the purposes of attacks against the Tutsi.

During the genocide, Interahamwe militias under Mr. Gatete’s command allegedly directed the massacre of several thousand Tutsi civilians who had taken refuge in Mukarange, Rukara and Kiziguro churches. He also ordered civilian officials and ordinary citizens to join in hunting down and killing the Tutsi.

The Tribunal said duty counsel will be assigned by the Registrar to represent Mr. Gatete until he engages his own defence team or is assigned counsel under the court’s rules.

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