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Arusha, March 12, 2007 (FH) – Some 6,000 gacaca judges of the Musanze district, in the north of Rwanda, created last week an agricultural cooperative whose goal is to fight poverty, reports the Rwandan pro-government newspaper, New Times. The semi-popular gacaca courts, conducted by designated voluntary judges from inside the community, are charged with judging the majority of the alleged suspects of the 1994 genocide which caused, according to Kigali, close to a million deaths, essentially all from the Tutsi ethnic group. Named Ukuri, the truth in the Rwandan language, the cooperative was launched in the presence of the Executive Secretary of the National Service of Gacaca Courts (SNJG), Domitilla Mukantanzwa and the governor of the Northern province, Boniface Rucagu, also according to the New Times. “Your jurisdiction services require a lot of sacrifice. You preside over cases involving many categories of people, among them relatives and close friends, but you put all that aside and exercise justice with impartiality,” Mukantaganzwa declared. In the name of the SNJG, she finally promised a contribution of 7 million Rwandan francs, around 13,000 American dollars. For his part, Governor Rucagu called gacaca judges of the other districts of the Northern Province to follow the lead of Musanze. Inspired by ancient village assemblies in which “sages,” seated on the lawns (gacaca, in the Rwandan language), settled conflicts dividing members of the community, these semi-traditional courts were envisioned with the goal of lightening the heavy docket of the 1994 genocide. Across the country, they are composed of some 200,000 judges who are not jurists but are people elected from within the community, on the basis of the sole criteria of integrity. The Rwandan government has set its objective to finish all trials before the gacacas in 2007, though they are not competent to try the planners of genocide or those accused of rape. The latter appear before traditional justice. ER/PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency