Arusha, September 4, 2000 (FH) - Prosecutors on Monday asked theInternational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to hand down a lifesentence on former Rwandan mayor and genocide suspect Ignace Bagilishema. "The prosecution demands that the accused be imprisoned for the remainderof his natural life for each of the crimes charged," Ugandan prosecutorJane Anywar Adong told the judges in her closing arguments.

1 min 19Approximate reading time

"There havebeen no mitigating factors in this case, there has been no remorse shown inthis case. Ignace Bagilishema faces seven charges of genocide and crimes againsthumanity. The former mayor of Mabanza (Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda)is accused of massacring Tutsis in Mabanza and three nearby communes duringthe 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Anywar Adong said the accused had knowingly participated, encouraged andcollaborated in the systematic slaughter of Tutsis. The prosecution alsosaid that Bagilishema did not use the measures at his disposal to stop themassacres or to punish the killers. The Ugandan prosecutor described Bagilishema's crimes as heinous and"shocking to the collective conscience of mankind". She said the accusedknew what would be the consequences of his actions, and was aware of theexistence of roadblocks where Tutsis were being singled out for slaughter. That meant, she continued, that he was consenting to the genocidal plan. Prosecutors further argued that as mayor, Bagilishema's duty was to protectthe population and call in security reinforcements if necessary. Theystressed that Bagilishema carried great authority among the people and waswell known to them. Anywar Adong told the court that everybody obeyed Bagilishema's orders,that he was efficient, charismatic and a former soldier. That, she said,was why he had been able to carry out genocide in Mabanza. Bagilishema's trial began on October 27th, 1999. The prosecution hasbrought 18 witnesses, while the defence has brought 15, including theaccused himself. Testifying in his own defence, Bagilishema said he had always tried toprotect Tutsis. He said he had tried to stop attacks by "Abakiga"assailants from neighbouring communes but had lacked the means. The formermayor said he had asked the prefect for security reinforcements, but in vain. Bagilishema's defence team, led by François Roux of France, continueMonday's hearings with their closing arguments. AT/JC/FH (BS%0904E )