07.03.08 - RWANDA/GACACA - CONVICTION CONFIRMED IN APPEAL IN NDAMIRA

Ngoma, Eastern Rwanda, 7 March 2008 (FH) - A Ngoma resident Festus Sekamana, 44, has been sentenced to life following an appeal lodged by victims before the Gacaca appellate court of Ndamira, Ngoma district, reports Hirondelle Agency.
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According to Jean Claude Furaha, an official for the gacacas, a semi-traditional judicial system, Sekamana was found guilty and convicted for crimes against humanity and the murders of Mugarura and his family, Gakwaya Michel, Andre Bushayija, a medical assistant, Therese Batamuriza and her f children, as well as Claver Kayinamura.

He had pleaded not guilty to the crimes.

Arrested on 17 February 1996 and detained in Kibungo prison, Sekamana made his first court appearance on 7 July 2007 at the gacaca court of Kibungo.

The accused was acquitted by Gacaca court for lack of evidence.

However, after Sekamana was released, the Gacaca officials exerted pressure on the Court and the accused was re-arrested.

Testimonies produced before the appellate court was too shocking.

Four victims of Sekamana testified in the case. One of them, Jean Claude Uwera recounted how accused's long sword dripping of blood during the 1994 genocide.

"I did not kill the Tutsis as they accuse me, I only buried them", explained Sekamana to IBUKA, a body genocide survivors.

The court has found itself in some irregularities which have led to acquittals of suspects. The anomaly was attributed to corruption, but it was difficult to apprehend the elements, a police source hinted.

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© Hirondelle News Agency