21.01.08 - RWANDA/ GACACA - GACACA JUDGE CAUGHT BRIBING A WITNESS

Kamonyi (southern Rwanda), 21 January 2008 (FH) - Mr Faustin Rutayisire, 35, a judge in traditional Gacaca court of the Karama sector, was caught last Wednesday allegedly bribing a prosecution witness, reports Hirondelle News Agency.
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Police of the Runda sector nabbed the judge bribing Mr Nsengumuremyi Isaie, a witness in his father's murder case, with free booze and offering him 20 000 Rwandan Francs (37 USD).

The latter, witness-victim, was to testify before the Runda Sector appellate court against Mr Sinasebeje Vianney, who has been sentenced in first instance court to 27 years in prison.

The accused was convicted of killing Nsengumuremyi's father during the 1994 genocide.

"He [Rutayisire] wanted to buy my silence during the appeal trial so that the judges could acquit the genocidaire. I cannot drink the blood of my father," claimed Nsengumuremyi and alerted the police.

Mr Rutayisire has denied the allegations although he admitted that he offered the booze "as a gesture of request for forgiveness which according to the Rwandan customs must be done over a bottle of a drink ".

Police sources have hinted that corruption has been alleged in the past trials but it was difficult to catch the culprit in the act as it was conducted secretly.

Mr Rutayisire's bribery allegations are being handled by the public ministry, which will investigate the issue and if proven, will be tried by appropriate courts.

The accused is an Inyangamugayo, a judge elected by the population according to their integrity.

Since the creation of the gacaca courts, almost 50 000 "Inyangamugayo" judges have been relieved of their functions, Mrs Domitille Mukantaganzwa, an official of the National Service of Gacaca Courts was recently reported to have said.

SRE/PB/SC
© Hirondelle News Agency