Credit and debit of a banker

27 June 2005 by Franck Petit

As the trial of the two Rwandan businessmen reaches its third week before the Brussels criminal court, Ephrem Nkezabera, a former banker and Interahamwe leader, presented a detailed financial portrait of his once "model" client, Etienne Nzabonimana, the main defendant in the dock.

With his wire-framed glasses, firm voice and educated locution, a former director at the Rwanda Commercial Bank (BCR) cut an imposing figure in court. Yet his position is a delicate one, given that he is also accused and detained in Belgium under the law of universal jurisdiction. Ephrem Nkezabera even ignored the advice of his lawyer not to come and testify, on 26 May, in the trial of Etienne Nzabonimana and Samuel Ndashyikirwa.

His lawyer Gilles Vanderbeck, who is also defending Ndashyikirwa, felt it would not be wise for his client to expose himself while his case is being processed, but his client "talks a lot and wants to talk". And Nkezabera is not just anybody: until the end of the genocide, he was also the president of the Interahamwe militia's national commission of financial affairs *see IJT n° 25+. Since 1998, he has been one of the main informers for the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Forty hours of his testimony are kept under seal in the ICTR archives.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.