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IRIN Emergency Update No. 67 on the Great Lakes (Saturday 28 December 1996)
# The first trials in Rwanda of those suspected of committing crimes of genocide in 1994 began 27 December 1996. The first suspect, Deo Bizimana, is accused of 11 counts to which he pleaded not guilty, contradicting a previous confession that he claimed was extracted under duress and torture. Mr. Bizimana requested that the hearing be held in French as his lawyer, who was absent for the initial hearing, did not speak the local language, Kinyarwandan. The panel of three judges rejected the initial request stating that several of the survivors did not understand French; the ruling is to be reviewed with his lawyer. Mr. Bizimana is not on the list of 1,900 genocide suspects recently published by the government but he is expected to face the death penalty if found guilty.
The second accused, Egide Gatanzi, a former member of the Republican National Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) and a local administrative leader is on the list of 1,900 genocide suspects to face the death penalty. Mr. Gatanzi pleaded not guilty to all nine charges. His trial has been adjourned until 3 January 1997. Each accused has the right to one appeal. Around 90,000 people suspected of genocide are currently in Rwandan jails and detention centres.
# Tanzanian authorities are maintaining a separate camp at Mwisa for Hutu refugees who adamantly refuse to return to Rwanda. Most refugees claim they are unable to return as their names have appeared on the Rwandan list of 1,900 suspects or because of their role and rank in the former Rwandan Army (ex-FAR).
Some 40 refugee patients in Ngara, northwest Tanzania, are to be repatriated to Rwanda with the assistance of 50 Red Cross volunteers from Tanzania and Rwanda and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Reports from humanitarian workers in Tanzania indicate that most of the Hutu refugees will have left Tanzania by 1 January 1997, the deadline imposed by the Tanzanian government
# According to an AFP news release, UNHCR has requested the Ugandan government to grant temporary refugee status to the 3,081 Hutu refugees who recently fled from Tanzania to Oruchinga refugee camp in Mbarara district, 260 km west of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The granting of temporary refugee status would allow the UNHCR time to investigate the possibility of repatriating them to Rwanda. The refugees refuse to return to either Rwanda or Tanzania. The Ugandan Minister responsible for refugees, Bidandi Ssali, said Uganda could not grant refugee status as it would go against the UN Convention on Refugees, which stipulates that they must seek refugee status in the first country of asylum. Uganda has order the refugees to return to Rwanda or Tanzania. The refugees have received limited assistance from WFP and UNHCR; however, for unknown reasons 18 tons of high protein biscuits delivered two weeks ago remain undistributed.
# The new Zairian "crisis government" identified its two main priorities as the war in the east and the forthcoming elections, which have been in the planning stage since 1990. General elections, preceded by a referendum on the constitution, are planned for July 1997.
The Zairian government remains silent on the situation in east and northeast Zaire, where Laurent Kabila's ADF troops captured the towns of Bunia and Walikale and Zairian forces were reported to have launched a failed counter-offensive. An unconfirmed report from a local businessman claimed that the ADF had taken Bunia with the assistance of Ugandan forces. Uganda has made previous incursions into Zaire on what they claimed was the pursuit of Sudanese-backed Ugandan rebels based in Zaire. Radio Candip out of Bunia continues to broadcast calls from Laurent Kabila's ADF for dispersed Bunia inhabitants to return to their homes and for Zairian soldiers to surrender their weapons.
# The French government has sent 36 tons of humanitarian aid to Kisangani in eastern Zaire. The aid is destined for the hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees who fled westward, to Lubutu and Shabunda, following the ADF invasion of south Kivu in October 1996. The withdrawal of MSF staff from Lubutu and ICRC staff from Shabunda will complicate delivery of the aid. In Shabunda, ICRC national staff will deal with arriving aid consignments.
# On 27 December, the Organization for African Unity (OAU) secretary-general, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, stated on Tanzanian National Radio Service that countries imposing sanctions on Burundi must consolidate their unity and reinforce the existing sanctions.
The Burundian Army claims to have arrested a senior Hutu rebel officer and charged him with the death of 76 people. On the radio service Voice of Tanzania, Burundian army officials stated that the National Defense of Democracy (CNDD) Hutu rebels broke their 23 December promise of a 10-day cease-fire on 24 December with a surprise attack in southern Burundi. Four Burundian soldiers, thirteen rebels and an undisclosed number of civilians were reportedly killed.
Nairobi, 28 December 1996, 13:46 GMT [END]
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Date: Sat, 28 Dec 1996 14:08:50 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Forwarded mail.... (fwd) Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.961228140428.1180Aemail@example.com>
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