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Arusha, March 13, 2007 (FH) – Three Rwandans, two men and one woman, were sentenced last week to 27 years in prison by a popular gacaca tribunal in Rwanda’s west for having killed Tutsis and eating their hearts during the 1994 genocide, the Rwandan daily, the New Times, reported Monday. Jean Bosco Habimana, Daniel Vuningoma and Stephanie Mukandutiye were sentenced by the gacaca tribunal in the Kamembe sector, in the Western Sector, writes the newspaper. According to witnesses cited by the New Times, the accused killed Tutsis and roasted their hearts before eating them. The semi-popular gacaca courts, composed of voluntary judges chosen from within the community, are in charge of trying the majority of those presumed responsible for the 1994 genocide which caused, according to Kigali, close to one million death, nearly all from the Tutsi ethnic group. Inspired by ancient village assemblies in which “sages,” seated on 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 conventional courts. ER/PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency