08.08.07 - RWANDA/JUSTICE - GACACAS WILL END IN SEPTEMBER IN A SOUTHERN SECTOR

Arusha, 8 August 2007 (FH) - The trials before the semi-traditional courts, known as Gacacas, could end next month in a sector of southern Rwanda, reports the newspaper La Nouvelle Relève.
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"In the sector of Kanazi, in Huye, a district in Southern Rwanda, the population states that, from now until September, all the Gacaca cases will be tried", according to the governmental newspaper.

Created in 2001 to try the principal suspects of the genocide that resulted officially in nearly a million dead, primarily members of the Tutsi minority, the Gacaca courts should complete their work by the end of the year.

Recently, additional courts were introduced throughout the country with the aim of accomplishing this objective.

The sector of Kanazi has, as a whole, 300 cases to be tried. "For the moment, a great number among these cases have already been tried", declared Evariste Nyarushumba, a local leader quoted by La Nouvelle Relève. He states that there remains only a reduced number of cases which will be tried without delay.

In Kanazi, the population meets every Wednesday for the Gacaca proceedings.

La Nouvelle Relève reports that there is a strong participation of the population in the Gacacas. Non-justified absences are sanctioned by a fine of 1 000 Rwandan francs (approximately 2 US dollars).

On 31 May 2007, Gacacas had tried 108 732 persons throughout the country. 22 811 of them have been convicted to Work of General Interest, an alternative to imprisonment, while 18 930 others have been acquitted.

Gacaca judges are not professional magistrates but ordinary citizens elected within their communities because of their moral integrity. They receive a basic legal training.

AT/MM
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