Popular Rwandan musician Simon Bikindi has pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide in his first appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Mr. Bikindi entered his plea (Thursday) before Justice Pavel Dolenc at the U-N court in Arusha, Tanzania.

The 48- year-old musician and former Rwandan government official was arrested in July of last year in the Netherlands on charges of composing songs that called for killing ethnic Tutsis in 1994. Prosecutors also say he helped organize and perpetrate some of the 1994 killings.

Dutch authorities extradited him to the international tribunal last week.

Ethnic Hutu militias killed as many as 800-thousand minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus over the course of three months until Tutsi rebels took power in Rwanda.

Earlier this week, the court began hearing the cases of Colonel Theoneste Bagosora and three former military associates, who are considered some of the masterminds of the 1994 genocide. The court has until now convicted eight suspects and found one innocent.

(ICTR press release, Reuters)