12.12.07 - RWANDA/BELGIUM - A BELGIAN CITIZEN OF RWANDAN ORIGIN SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS IN PRISON

Nyamasheke (Western Rwanda), 12 December 2007 (FH) - A Belgian citizen of Rwandan origin was sentenced last week to 30 years in prison by the gacaca court of Gashirabwoba, in the Bushenge sector, in the district of Nyamasheke, reports the Hirondelle Agency on location.
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Mr. Aloys Mujyabwami, alias Biniga, 55, a former businessman in Kamembe, then the main city of the Cyangugu Prefecture, was found guilty of crimes of genocide, planning of the 1994 Tutsi genocide, distribution of weapons in Gashirabwoba and of the death of more than one hundred Tutsis in the aforementioned area.

During the proceedings, which lasted 7 hours, the defendant had pleaded not guilty to all these counts of the indictment in spite of powerful testimonies of more than 10 witnesses on the distribution of weapons and his presence during the massacres in Gashirabwoba. The 2 defence witnesses who presented themselves before the court and who affirmed to not have seen the defendant on site almost lost controlled when asked if they had furrowed all of Gashirabwoba during the genocide and why.

On 29 November, this trial was deferred to Thursday 6 December 2007 because the defendant said that he had not had sufficient time to prepare his defence.

Acquitted of 1st degree in the court of Kamembe, in the district of Rusizi, he had been found guilty in appeal for the same crimes on 8 November 2007 and had been sentenced to 7 years in prison that he had to serve by starting with Work of General Interest (WGI). At the end of the hearing, the police had arrested him and handed him over to the prosecution of the republic in Rusizi, where a case for negationnism is also under investigation. It followed his declaration, during the trial, that there had been no genocide in Kamembe.

This new conviction, under the terms of article 14, al.1 of the organic law of the 3 March 2007 on the gacaca courts, places him in the category of the people not entitled to alternative sentences instead of imprisonment, WGI, or to suspended sentences, because he pleaded not guilty. The convict plans on appealing.

The trial of Mr. Mujyabwami attracted a large crowd, and, in particular, the presence of representatives of the administration and the police as well as a representative of the Embassy of Belgium.

A fugitive after 1994, he had taken refuge with his family in Belgium where he would acquired Belgian citizenship, Mr. Mujyabwami was wanted in his prefecture of origin for his active role in the 1994 genocide. He was apprehended during a business trip in Goma, in the DRC, in June 2007 and was repatriated home to Cyangugu to be tried.

SRE/PB/MM
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