U.N. Court: Rwandan Minister Funneled Money to Militias

A former Rwandan minister is accused of diverting funds from international donors to murderous militias during the 1994 genocide that killed more than 500,000 people, a prosecutor at a U.N.-backed court said Wednesday.

Augustin Ngirabatware was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in October 2008 and has pleaded not guilty.

But lawyer Wallace Kapaya said Wednesday he has proof Ngirabatware stole money donated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as well as cash from lenders including Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the United States, Belgium and Canada.

The money was intended to go to the Rwandan Ministry for Planning, which Ngirabatware used to head, but Kapaya says instead it was used to buy weapons and transport for the extremist Hutu militia known as the Interahamwe.

Ngirabatware is the son-in-law of Felician Kabuga, Rwanda's most wanted genocide suspect. The U.S. government has offered a $5 million bounty for Kabuga's capture.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was set up in November 1994 and started operations two years later. So far it has convicted 39 people and acquitted six. Trials are under way for at least 11 accused in eight trials.

The genocide was triggered when unknown assailants shot down a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira as it approached the Rwandan capital. More than half a million members of the Tutsi ethnic minority and moderates from the Hutu majority were slaughtered during the 100-day genocide.