17.09.07 - ICTR/RUGAMBARARA - A MINIMUM OF 12 YEARS IN PRISON REQUESTED AGAINST FORMER MAYOR

Arusha, 17 September 2007 (FH) - The office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) requested Monday a minimum of 12 years in prison against a former Rwandan mayor who has pled guilty, Juvénal Rugambarara.   
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The defendant managed, during the 1994 genocide, the commune of Bicumbi, close to the Rwandan capital of Kigali.
 
"We ask you to impose on the defendant a sentence of at least 12 years in prison", indicated, at the end of his oral submissions, Charles Adeogun-Phillips.
 
At the end of the hearing, the presiding Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva (Sri Lanka) affirmed that the judgment will be rendered at "the opportune time".
 
On 13 July, Rugambarara, 48, pled guilty of extermination as a crime against humanity for not having taken the necessary measures in order to punish his subordinates implicated in the massacres. Eight other counts were dropped by the prosecution.
 
The two parties had agreed on a sentence ranging from 9 to 12 years in prison, even if the judges are not bound by this agreement.
 
Adeogun Phillips invited the chamber to take into account aggravating factors and extenuating circumstances. Among the first, he mentioned the influence which the defendant enjoyed within the community and, amid extenuating circumstances, he stressed the importance of the consent of the former mayor for the process of national reconciliation in Rwanda.
 
For his part, the main defence counsel, Maroufa Diabira, invited the judges to impose on his client "a sanction which brings him the closest possible to his compatriots (..) a sentence which rehabilitates him". He emphasize on the "brittleness of power" which Rugambarara possessed during the genocide, stressing that the former mayor "did not have enough time to assume his responsibilities in a country where chaos had settled".
 
Rugambarara, who was arrested on 11 August 2003, is the eighth accused to have pled guilty at the ICTR.
 
The prison sentences received by the defendants that have pled guilty range from 6 to 15 years.
 
ER/PB/MM

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