Arusha, August 28, 2003 (FH) - The defence of genocide suspect and former Rwandan Minister for Education Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda on Thursday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to acquit him. Kamuhandas lead counsel Aicha Conde of Guinea told the trial chamber that Kamuhanda should be set free because the prosecution has failed to prove a case against him.

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Justice does not mean convicting someone who is innocent,Conde said in response to submissions that Kamuhanda should be convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The prosecutor, Ibukonulu Babajide of Nigeria on Wednesday declared that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. He urged the chamber to find Kamuhanda guilty of all the charges, convict and send him to prison for the remainder of his life. Kamuhanda is charged with eight counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. These crimes were allegedly committed in his native Gikomero commune (Kigali province, central Rwanda) in 1994. Conde said no case has been made against the accused person and asked the court to reject the prosecutions call for life imprisonment of her client. I submit that Kamuhanda has done absolutely nothing and therefore no sanction should be applied to him Conde stated. Kamuhandas co-counsel Patricia Mongo of Congo Brazzaville told the chamber that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Kamuhanda participated in the attacks on Tutsi refugees at Gishaka Catholic church. The prosecution alleges that Kamuhanda led attacks on Tutsis at Gikomero Protestant Parish and Gishaka Catholic Church within Gikomero commune on April 12 th 1994. Conde argued that thirteen prosecution witnesses did not know Kamuhanda and were unable to identify him. She described some prosecution witnesses who testified of having seen Kamuhanda during the attacks in Gikomero Protestant parish as people of bad faith who were not at the parish but did not hesitate to come and testify against him. "On the rape accusations against Kamuhanda, she stated that the evidence tendered in court was only hearsay. She explained that Kamuhanda accepted the appointment as a Minister of Education in April 25 th 1994 because he would have been seen as an RPF accomplice if he declined. The presiding Judge William Hussein Sekule declared the case closed after the defence completed presenting their arguments. The chamber will retire to deliberate on the case. Kamuhanda trial started on April 17 th 2001 but was restarted again on September 3 rd 2001 following the death of Judge Laity Kama of Senegal who was then presiding. Kamuhanda trial is before Trial Chamber II composed of Judge William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Judge Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) and Judge Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho). PJ/AT/FH (KH'0828e)