- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2002

Rwandans turn out for genocide hearings

KAMASHASHI, Rwanda Dressed in their best, thousands of Rwandans turned up yesterday for the inaugural session of a bold judicial initiative that will see village courts across the country try suspects in the 1994 genocide.

Here near the capital, where one of 18 pilot "gacaca" local courts began work yesterday, the large crowd of Rwandans joined foreign reporters and observers as 19 jurors 12 of them women and many officials and magistrates mingled with relatives of those accused in the massacres, which claimed up to a million lives.

"There are four points on the agenda for this inaugural session," explained jury president Jean Damascene Murwanashyaka, a teacher by profession. "The introduction of the jurors, a reminder of the objectives of gacaca courts, rules of procedure, and the calendar for weekly hearings," he said.

Mr. Murwanashyaka was elected as a gacaca juror in October by some 250,000 Rwandans in 11,000 jurisdictions across the small central African country. For the first six months, the gacaca courts will concentrate on "identifying the victims of the genocide, the alleged perpetrators and the material damage in our area."

Jailers implicated on prison-sex video

JOHANNESBURG South Africa's prison authorities moved yesterday to suspend at least 22 wardens implicated in an undercover video that showed them selling juvenile inmates to other prisoners for sex in exchange for drugs, alcohol and guns.

The two hours of footage, secretly filmed by four medium-security inmates, was screened on national television Tuesday night, and South Africa's media reacted shrilly yesterday.

"Shock jail expose of child sex for sale" and "Prison corruption bombshell," newspapers headlined after the videotape was shown on the South African Broadcasting Corp.'s "Special Assignment" program.

Rebels attack Gba, kill six in ambushes

MONROVIA, Liberia Rebels fighting to overthrow President Charles Taylor on Tuesday attacked the market town of Gba, 25 miles northwest of this capital, military sources said.

Since the start of this year, rebels from Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy have moved their war to striking distance of Monrovia, a city traumatized by bloody street-fighting in the civil war of the 1990s. "They killed a number of civilians, including two business people," a military source told Reuters news agency.

Agence France-Presse reported that at least six persons, including two soldiers, were killed in an ambush of two vehicles on a road outside Monrovia.

Weekly notes

France stepped in to prevent a group of French mercenaries from being sent to the troubled Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday after a plane carrying the men was reported to be returning to Paris from east Africa. A guerrilla attack on the main airport in the Congo Republic last week left more than 170 people dead, a police source said yesterday in Brazzaville. According to the new toll, 155 dead were of the "Ninja" militia, which attacked the international airport early June 14. The police source said seven members of the security forces and about 10 civilians were also killed.

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