02.11.07 - RWANDA/GACACA - A PASTOR AND A GACACA JUDGE ACQUITTED OF GENOCIDE

  Arusha, 2 November 2007 (FH) - A Rwandan Pastor, Emile Uwimbabazi, was acquitted of genocide Tuesday by a gacaca court in the district of Rutsiro, in North-Western Rwanda; and a former gacaca judge, Théoneste Mulihano, was also acquitted the following day by a gacaca court in Kigali, it was learned Friday from rwandan associative source.
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Uwimbabazi was, however, found guilty of destruction of houses during the genocide, specified the League for Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region (LDGL), a collective based in Kigali.
 
Infractions on goods are not punished by imprisonment, the guilty must only repair the damage.
 
After the verdict, the pastor presented to the judges a letter addressed to the Minister of the Interior in which he denounces "a network of people" who threaten his safety, continued the LDGL.
 
Emile Uwimbabazi is a pastor of the Patmos Healing Ministries and works in a non-governmental organization called Permanent Education for Peace and Reconciliation (EPPR), indicates the source.
 
Still according to the LDGL, the gacaca court of the Remera sector, in Kigali, acquitted Wednesday the former gacaca judge Théoneste Mulihano who was accused of having buried alive Innocent Nkubana. The mother and the brother of the victim had, during the trial, testified for the defence.
 
Inspired by traditional village assemblies where wise men settled disagreements while sitting on the grass (gacaca, in Rwandan language), the semi-traditional gacaca courts are entrusted with trying the majority of the persons accused of having played a part in the 1994 genocide.
 
They are presided, not by professional magistrates, but by "people with integrity" elected among the community. They can deliver sentences of up to life in prison. According to the executive secretary of the National Service of Gacaca Courts (SNJG), Domitille Mukantaganzwa, these courts should complete their work by the end of the year.
 
ER/PB/MM

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