Arusha, March 1, 2004 (FH) – The prosecutor in the trial involving the former mayor of Rusumo commune, (Kibungo Prefecture, Eastern Rwanda) Sylvestre Gacumbitsi at requested on Monday the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to imprison the accused for the rest of his life. Gacumbitsi 57, is charged with five counts related to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

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They include genocide or in the alternative, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder and rape as crimes against humanity. “We request you to find the accused guilty of genocide, extermination, murder and rape. Our submission on the appropriate sentence is adequatelylaid, we request the accused Sylvestre Gacumbitsi be put away for life,” the prosecutor, Mr. Richard Karagyesa of Uganda concluded in his closing brief. For one hour the prosecutor reviewed the evidence of several prosecution and defense witnesses. He said his witnesses had given evidence which was in line with what was written in the indictment. He mentioned those who said they had witnessed Gacumbitsi being involved in instigating the genocide and exterminating of Tutsis. He also cited one witness who said he saw Gacumbitsi hacking a man to death. Other witnesses he quoted were victims of rape. One such witness TAQ had testified that she was 9 months pregnant when she was gang-raped in Rusumo. The prosecution maintains that there were massacres of more than 20,000 people at Nyarubuye Parish on the 15th of April, 1994, carried out on the orders of the genocide suspect. Mr. Karagyesa then moved to discredit the defence witnesses whom he said, “denied the obvious, distancing themselves from criminal activity. ”“All the defence witnesses brought to the trial claimed not to have heard or seen Gacumbitsi doing wrong. The mere fact that many of them have said the same thing so many times cannot controvert the testimony of those who have been raped,” Karagyesa stressed. Most of the defence witnesses for Gacumbitsi testified on the same lines, refuting the allegations made by the prosecution that he organized and was present in Nyarubuye Parish on the day of the massacre. The prosecutor brought a total of 15 witnesses including Human Rights expert, Alison Des Forge and BBC journalist Feargal Keane who filmed the Nyarubuye massacre site. The defence brought a total of 21 witnesses. One expert witness Mr. Pascal Ndegejeho, a former minister for information, had his status changed to afactual witness. He was then redrawn from the chamber after failing to decide whether he should accept to testify as such. The defence team led by Mr. Kouengoua of Cameroon will submit its closing arguments in the afternoon. The tribunal expects to deliver the verdict in this trial in June 2004. The trial is before Trial Chamber Three, which is presided over by Senegalese judge Andresia Vaz, assisted by judges Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji and Serguei Aleckseivich Egorov from Russia. SV/CE/FH (GA'0301e)