Rwanda musician in UN court

A United Nations court has begun hearing a case against a Rwandan former sports ministry official whose popular songs were said to have encouraged killings in the country's 1994 genocide.

    More than 800,000 people died in the 1994 genocide

    Simon Bikindi, a musician and former official in Rwanda's Ministry of Youth and Sports, was arrested in the Netherlands in 2001.

    He faces six counts of genocide to which he has pleaded not guilty.

    "He was the singer whose popular songs were supposed to have encouraged people to commit genocide," said Timothy Gallimore, spokesman for Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

    "We haven't had anyone in his category before."

    In its indictment, ICTR said that Bikindi also agreed or collaborated with, among others, Juvenal Habyarimana, the former president, to give military training to Hutu Interahamwe militia and to spread anti-Tutsi propaganda.

    He is accused of helping recruit Interahamwe militias in late 1993 and early 1994 and for collaborating with among others, Habyarimana, to launch privately owned Radio Mille Collines.

    The station was used to spread anti-Tutsi messages, and often played Bikindi's music.

    Scores indicted

    The I

    CTR added that Bikindi would compose and record music and have Habyarimana vet it to see if it fit the government's policies before it was released.

    The ICTR is under pressure to finish its cases by 2008. It has indicted more than 80 people for genocide-related crimes since starting work in 1994, convicted 26 and acquitted four people.

    Gallimore said the tribunal will be delivering another judgement on Wednesday against Andre Rwamakuba, a former education minister.

    About 800,000 minority Tutsi and moderate Hutus were slaughtered over a period of 100 days in 1994 in the Rwandan genocide.

    The killings began after a plane carrying Habyarimana was shot down over Kigali, the Rwandan capital, kiling all on board.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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