BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – A former Rwandan banker accused of participating in the country’s 1994 genocide is being held in Brussels, prosecutors said Thursday.

Ephrem Nkezabera, 52, was arrested June 21 in Brussels and is being held on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, said Lieve Pellens, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor’s office. Investigating Judge Damien Vandermeersch confirmed his detention for another month at a pretrial hearing Wednesday.

Pellens declined to release any details of the case, citing its “delicate nature.”

Belgian media reported Nkezabera fled to Congo after the massacres, then to the Netherlands, and had been living undercover in Brussels this year.

Nkezabera was arrested by Belgian police on a warrant issued by the U.N. tribunal trying the alleged masterminds of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, told The Associated Press in Arusha, Tanzania.

Nkezabera, a former top director of the Commercial Bank of Rwanda, was the treasurer of the Interahamwe Hutu militia, which played a central role in the massacre of at least 500,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, state-owned Radio Rwanda reported late Wednesday.

The station said Nkezabera, No. 67 on Rwanda’s list of most wanted genocide suspects, is accused of supplying arms used in the killings.

Pellens said she was unaware of any extradition request from Rwanda for Nkezabera, who would likely face trial in Belgium.

Jallow said the case would be the first time a national court will try someone wanted by the U.N. tribunal, which is based in Tanzania. Following criticism it was too slow, the tribunal changed its rules last year to allow trials by national courts of those it had indicted.

Three other Rwandans were already in custody in Belgium on charges related to the 1994 massacres. The first trial was set to begin early next year.

In 2002, four Rwandans were sentenced in Belgium to between 12 and 20 years in prison for their roles in the genocide.



Associated Press Writer Sukhdev Chhatbar in Arusha, Tanzania, contributed to this report.

AP-ES-07-29-04 0910EDT



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