31.08.07 - ICTR/AGENDA - VERDICT IN SEPTEMBER FOR A REPENTED FORMER MAYOR

Arusha, 31 August 2007 (FH) - In addition to six of the trials in progress for which proceedings are planned, September will see the delivery of the verdict in the trial of the former Mayor Juvénal Rugambara who pled guilty last July to extermination of Tutsis in his commune.   
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Rugambarara, 48, was mayor of Bicumbi, a small commune in eastern Rwanda, in 1994.
 
He recognized that Tutsis had been massacred in three sectors of his district by his subordinates without taking measures in order to punish them.
 
He expressed strong remorse and asked for forgiveness to the families of the victims.
 
His guilty plea was accepted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). His judges scheduled for 17 September a hearing devoted to the arguments of the prosecutor and the defence.
 
According to the practices of the ICTR, the verdict is rendered within twenty four hours following such a hearing.
 
Rugambarara and the prosecutor recommended a sentence ranging between nine and twelve years but the decision is up to the judges.

Rugambarara was mayor of Bicumbi from 16 September 1993 to 20 April 1994. He was arrested in Uganda on 11 August 2003. He is the eighth accused to plead guilty since the creation of the ICTR in 1994.
 
On 17 September, the tribunal will also continue the proceedings in the trial of four former ministers for the interim government that was in power during the genocide. They had been deferred on 14 August after the death of the Canadian lawyer, Pierre Gaudreau, representing the former Foreign Minister Jerome Bicamumpaka, one of the defendants. He had just begun his defence.
 
Another defendant whose defence begins in September is Simon Bikindi, a well-known musician. He is accused of having encouraged the genocide by the means of his songs. He called his first witness for the defence on 24 August.
 
The role of the tribunal also includes other trials, as well at the prosecution stage. It is that of Abbot Emmanuel Rukundo suspended since 13 July and that restarts on 3 September, that of Siméon Nshamihigo, a former magistrate and that of the "Butare six", an area in southern Rwanda. The trials of Nshamihigo and Butare were in session during a part of August. Trizal of Simon Bikindi will start again 24 with defense arguments.

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