Kigali, 22 October 2008 (FH) - The Military Court of Kigali will render its judgment Friday in the trial of four Rwandan officers, including a General, accused of murder in June 1994 in Kabgayi, central Rwanda, of ten officials of the Catholic Church, including three Bishops, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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On 24 September, Military Prosecutor, Captain Kayijuka Ngabo, had requested life imprisonment for General Wilson Gumisiriza and Major Wilson Ukwishaka who rejected, throughout the proceedings, any involvement in the multiple murders. Ngabo had also requested 15 years in prison for Captains John Butera and Dieudonne Rukeba, who have pleaded guilty.

The General and the Major had, in their defence, made the point that they did not know that their men were going to commit this crime.

For their part, Captains Butera and Rukeba admitted to have been pushed to vengeance following accounts heard on their road and according to which these spiritual authorities had closely collaborated with the armed wings of the genocide.

The four officers were arrested on 11 June, after, according to the Rwandan army, following joint investigations by Rwandan General Prosecutor and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The trial began on 19 August.

The ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, clarified the day after the officers' arrest, that Rwandan justice could be dispossessed of the case if the trial would not meet international standards on the matter.

Questioned a month ago by the Hirondelle Agency, Cameroonian William Egbe, charged by Jallow to follow the Kigali proceedings, declined his comments on the course of the trial.

"I report directly to the Prosecutor (Jallow) himself. He is the only one qualified to deliver the opinion", responded Egbe, ICTR Senior Trial Attorney.

According to a source at the military prosecution in Kigali, there was at each hearing a representative of the Office of Prosecutor (OTP) of ICTR and all the evidence was made available to UN Court's Prosecutor.

All four defendants were at the time of the facts that form the case, members of the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), former rebellion, currently in power in Rwanda.

Among murdered clergymen, almost all Hutus were the Archbishop of Kigali, Vincent Nsengiyumva, the Bishop of Byumba (northern Rwanda) Joseph Ruzindana, and the Bishop of Kabgayi, Thaddee Nsengiyumva, then President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda.

Archbishop Nsengiyumva, a former member of the "central committee" at the time of the single party, was a family friend of President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose assassination on 6 April 1994 sparked the genocide in which were killed, according to the UN, nearly 800 000 people, mainly ethnic Tutsis.


© Hirondelle News Agency