Arusha, 28 May 2008 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) prosecution requested Wednesday life in prison for Protais Zigiranyirazo, brother-in-law of the former Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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"I ask the Chamber to sentence Zigiranyirazo to prison for the remainder of his life", Tanzanian Senior Trial Attorney, Wallace Kapaya, told the UN Court.

He alleged that the defendant had organized massacres of ethnic Tutsis in different areas of the prefecture of Gisenyi, northern Rwanda, from where the accused hails.

Earlier, another member of the prosecution team, Burundian Sylvere Ntukamazina, had affirmed that in the evening of 6 April 1994, the defendant had taken part, with his sister, widow of the president, in drawing a list of Tutsi and Hutu opponents to be eliminated.

Ntukamazina said that the list had been drawn up "within the framework of a plan to avenge the death of the president". Habyarimana was killed near the capital Kigali after his plane was shot-down by unknown assailants.

According to the Burundian lawyer, the list was given to the Commander of Battalion of Presidential Guard (PG), Major Protais Mpiranya, wanted by the ICTR.

Mpiranya is among 13 fugitives on the run and has a bounty of five million US Dollars reward from the US government under the reward for justice programme.

"We say that this man (Zingiranyirazo) is guilty and we have established beyond any reasonable doubt his implication to commit genocide", stressed Ntukamazina.

In addition, the defendant, also known as "Mr. Z", was prosecuted for genocide, complicity in genocide, murder and extermination. The defendant has pleaded not guilty.

The defence will present its closing arguments Thursday and thereafter the Chamber will go into deliberation immediately afterwards. The defence intends to develop an alibi that the defendant arrived at the presidential residence only the day after the attack of 6 April.

Zigiranyirazo was Governor of Ruhengeri, northern Rwanda, before resigning in 1989, to travel to Canada for further studies. A year later, he was expelled from Canada.

In 1994, he no longer occupied an official function, but the prosecution alleges that he had kept, because of his relationship with the presidential family, an influence on the soldiers, gendarmes and Interahamwe militiamen, the main armed faction which actively took part in the genocide.

The UN has estimated that about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the April-July slaughter.

Zigiranyirazo was arrested in Brussels,Belgium in July 2001 and his trial began in October 2005.


© Hirondelle News Agency