12.12.07 - RWANDA/GACACA - APPROXIMATELY A MILLION PEOPLE HAVE APPEARED BEFORE GACACA COURTS

Kigali, 12 December 2007 (FH) - Around a million people accused of have played a part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda have appeared, up to date, before the semi-traditional gacaca courts, announced Wednesday in Kigali the executive secretary of the National Service of Gacaca Courts, Domitille Mukantaganzwa.
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Mrs. Mukantaganzwa specified during a press conference on this total of accused having appeared, more than 800 000 were tried. "We are really satisfied", estimated Mukantaganzwa, explaining that the initial number of suspects which was 818 564 increased because of additional information revealed during trials before the gacaca courts.

To the question of knowing if the gacaca trials will end by 31 December as planned, she answered that the essence of the work was done. "Many courts finished a while ago the trials which they were to try, those which have the greatest number of cases have not yet tried and have fifteen", indicated Mukantaganzwa. "Stress is not necessary. They were forecasts, if we note (at the end of the year) that we still need time, we will continue ", she indicated.

Mrs. Mukantaganzwa also strongly refuted the allegations by Ibuka, the main organization of survivors, according to which the gacaca courts disappointed survivors. "It is a great astonishment for us", she declared; criticizing Ibuka of "generalizing".

Inspired by the traditional assemblies during which wise men from the village settled disagreements sitting on the grass (gacaca, in Rwandan language), the gacaca courts are charged with trying the majority of the alleged authors of the 1994 genocide. They are not presided by professional magistrates but by people with integrity chosen from among the community.

They can sentence up to life in prison.

The 1994 genocide in Rwanda resulted, according to Kigali, in nearly a million killed, primarily Tutsis

ER/PB/MM
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