01.10.07 - RWANDA/GACACA - A FORMER NURSE AT THE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS IN PRISON

Arusha, 1 October 2007 (FH) - Scholastique Mukabandora, a former nurse at the Butare University hospital, in southern Rwanda, was sentenced on 26 September to 30 years in prison after having lost her appeal before a semi-traditional gacaca court, it was learned on Monday from a local associative source.
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She was accused of having played a part in the preparation of the Tutsi massacres, of having torn off the perfusions of Tutsi patients and of having killed a new born, reported the League for Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region (LDGL), a regional collective based in Kigali. The organization does not specify however if she was guilty on all these charges.

The nurse defended herself by stating that the massacres at the university hospital had taken place at night and that she only worked during the day for the period of the genocide, according to LDGL.

Mrs. Mukabandora was arrested on 28 September 1998 and has been imprisoned, since, at the central prison of Karubanda in Butare, always according to the LDGL. Convicted of first degree in July 2006, she appealed.

Inspired by the traditional village assemblies at the time where wisemen, sitting on the grass (gacaca, in Rwandan language), settled disagreements, the gacacas (pronounced gatchatcha) courts are charged with trying the majority of the persons who were allegedly involved in the 1994 genocide.

They are not presided by professional magistrates but by people elected from among the community on the basis of the only criterion of integrity. The gacacas can sentence people up to life in prison.

ER/PB/MM
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