21.11.07 - RWANDA/GACACA - THE GACACA TRIALS COULD CONTINUE IN 2008 (OFFICIAL)

  Arusha, 21 November 2007 (FH) - The Rwandan semi-traditional courts, Gacacas, charged with trying the suspects of the genocide could continue their work in 2008, reported an official source.   
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Started in 2002, the trials were initially to end in December 2007, according to the scheduling of the National Service of Gacaca Courts (SNJG).
 
"We are more bound by quality than by the race", declared last week in Kigali the executive secretary of the SNJG, Domitille Mukantaganzwa; addressing herself to a group of journalists from the Great Lakes region which followed a training session organized by the Hirondelle Foundation.
 
The Gacaca official indicated that certain courts had ended their trials but that others "will require an extension of one or several months". According to Mrs. Mukantaganzwa, 95% of the suspects classified in the category of executants have already been tried. The 5% that remain are those who asked for the revision of their judgments or the cases which were examined following new information, she specified.
 
Approximately half a million people were categorized as executants, explained Mrs. Mukantaganzwa. The executive secretary of the SNJG also noted that Gacacas had already tried 82% of the individuals who committed looting. They are 308 000 in total.
 
Mrs. Mukantaganzwa said that she was satisfied with the assessment of the Gacacas, but she added that "there are many challenges". "In several corners, in particular in the west where there were very few victims, people keep silent", she said. It took several sensibilization sessions to persuade them to testify, according to her.
 
"Gacacas contribute to the revelation of the truth on what occurred, which decreases suspicions and reduces globalisation", estimated Mrs. Mukantaganzwa. "They allow people to express themselves, to confess, plead guilty, to ask for forgiveness", she added. "People are sorry, the victims forgive, it is the pillar of reconciliation", concluded the executive secretary of the SNJG.
 
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© Hirondelle News Agency