U.N. tribunal set to rule on Rwandan army officer accused of genocide

A U.N. tribunal was to rule Tuesday on the case of a retired army officer and lawmaker who is charged with four courts of genocide and crimes against humanity related to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, officials said. Retired Lt. Col. Aloys Simba has pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from the 100-day slaughter of more than half a million members of the Tutsi ethnic minority and political moderates from the Hutu majority.

Prosecutors alleged that Simba, 63, was in charge of civil defense in the Gikongoro and Butare regions of southern Rwanda between May and June 1994. In that capacity he was in command of the military, police and civilian militias that carried out most of the killing.

"This is a very important judgment as one of the largest killings happened in Gikongoro," said Steven Rapp, chief prosecutor for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

But defense lawyers claim that Simba, who was arrested in the West African nation of Senegal in November 2001, was framed.

Prosecutors, however, alleged that Simba was influential because he was part of a group of army officers who led a coup in 1973 which brought former President Juvenal Habyarimana to power.

The genocide was unleashed by the extremist government that took power after Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down in the capital as he returned home from peace talks with Tutsi-led rebels in 1994, reports the AP. I.L.

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