31.08.07 - RWANDA/GACACA - A GACACA JUDGE AFFIRMS TO HAVE BEEN BRIBED BY A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Arusha, 31 August 2007 (FH) - A judge of a semi-traditional gacaca court in southern Rwanda admitted having received 2,5 million Rwandan francs (approximately 4 545 dollars) in exchange of the acquittal, two months ago, of a member of parliament accused of genocide, Elisée Bisengimana, the Rwandan pro-governmental newspaper, The New Times, reported Friday.   
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"I received 2,5 million francs from Bisengimana to clear him", admitted Judge Faustin Mbonigaba, of the gacaca court of Gihundwe, in the district of Rusizi, according to The New Times.
 
The judge affirms to have used the money to suborn certain witnesses and that the elected official still owed him 3 million Rwandan francs.
 
Mbonigaba was recently arrested within the investigation of another corruption case of a genocide suspect.
 
Bisengimana, member of the governing party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) that he joined a few years after the 1994 genocide, was acquitted last June. His case is awaiting appeal phase following a recourse by survivors.
 
The member of parliament, who taught in a secondary school during the genocide, qualified as unfounded the allegations made by Judge Mbonigaba, still according to The New Times.
 
The executive secretary of the national service of gacaca courts, Donatilla Mukantaganzwa, stated to have received, in the past, information according to which survivors of the genocide were holding meetings in the hope of pressing charges against Bisengimana, adds the Rwandan newspaper.
 
Inspired by the traditional Rwandan village assemblies when "wise men" settled disagreements while sitting on the grass (gacaca, in the Rwandan language), gacacas (pronounced gatchatcha) are charged with trying the majority of the persons alleged to have committed crimes during 1994 genocide that resulted, according to Kigali, in nearly a million killed, primarily Tutsies.
 
ER/PB/MM

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