Saturday, July 29, 2006

Simon Bikindi Trial Watch

I noted that Simon Bikindi's name popped up last month as a trial motion was published. The UN wheels of justice are turning with excruiciating slowness. Bikindi is a rare case in that he is a musician charged with crimes against humanity because of his role in the geniocide in Rwanda. As a reminder of his case, here's this from the BBC:

Saturday, 30 March, 2002, 11:22 GMT
Rwandan singer faces genocide trial

One of Rwanda's most popular singers has been transferred to the International Tribunal for Rwanda after losing a fight against his extradition.

Simon Bikindi is charged with six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity for having composed and performed songs demonising Tutsis, and inciting Hutus to kill them.

He was arrested nine months ago in the Netherlands, but battled against his transfer to the tribunal in Arusha in Tanzania. He is expected to appear before the court in the near future.

Mr Bikindi said in a recent interview that he was innocent, and that the songs he was writing in the 1990s merely reflected the mood of the time.

Music ban

He rose to fame singing of love and the beauty of the Rwandan countryside.

But in 1990, the tone of his songs changed.

His music has been banned in Rwanda since the end of the genocide.

A total of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists between April and July 1994.

Slow procedures

The transfer of the singer comes as the war crimes tribunal is under huge pressure to speed up its procedures.

In the seven years since its creation, just nine people have been judged. Eight were convicted and given long sentences, and the ninth was acquitted.

The trial of one of the two others detained at the same time as Mr Bikindi, former Finance Minister Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, is already under way.

Mr Ndindabahizi, who was arrested in Belgium, has pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

An army chaplain, Emmanuel Rekundo, was also arrested in Switzerland in the same series of European arrests.

So far, more than 50 of those indicted by the Arusha tribunal for war crimes in Rwanda have been arrested.

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