Bujumbura, 18 June 2008 (FH) - The Supreme Court of Burundi Thursday acquitted six former officials of the Burundian security services accused of having taken part in the murder of Dr Kassi Manlan, Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Burundi, in November 200.

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Earlier, three of them--Emile Manisha, head of the national police force at the time of the murder, Colonel Gerard Ntunzwenayo, alias Mivuba, then deputy head of the intelligence and Commander Aloys Bizimana, who commanded the Kiyange brigade--, were sentenced to death by lower court.

The three others-- Japhet Ndayegamiye, head of the intelligence in the capital, Expert Bihumugani, an official of a security company that guarded the residence of Dr. Manlan and Athanase Bizindavyi, former assistant director of the central prison--were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

During the trial before the Court of Appeal of Bujumbura, Bernard Maingain, lawyer for a civil party, accused the former Burundian President , Pierre Buyoya, of having ordered the WHO's representative's murder.

Mr Buyoya afterwards filed a complaint against this Belgian lawyer although the latter maintained his position.

"The civil party will continue its battle for the rule of law so that it receives judicial recognition; a ruling does not mean that the last word was said concerning the procedure in progress", stated Maingain.

In spite of the acquittal, the public ministry, which indicted them in October 2003, decided to maintain them in custody.

The General Prosecutor, Elysium Ndaye, said he intended to appeal the decision.


© Hirondelle News Agency