Kigali, 19 November 2008 (FH) - Life imprisonment, maximum sentence envisaged by the Rwandan penal code, was requested Tuesday against the former Minister for Justice, Agnes Ntamabyariro, on trial in Rwanda since June 2006 after being arrested in Zambia in 1997.

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She is the only member of the former interim government during the genocide to be tried by a Rwandan court for her alleged role in the 1994 killings. Fourteen, including the then Prime Minister were indicted and are held by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Eight have already been tried, including two, who were acquitted.

In Kigali, the Prosecutor, Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, requested the same sentence for the co-defendant of the former minister, former substitute of the prosecutor, Jean-Leonard Hategekimana, according to the AFP.

Ntamabyariro, from a Hutu father and Tutsi mother, is notably accused of having planned the genocide and incited to commit genocide. According to the prosecutor, she with complicity of Hategekimana, ordered assassination of the former Governor of Butare, southern Rwanda), Jean Baptist Habyarimana, a Tutsi who was opposed to the genocide in his prefecture.

Defended by President of Bar of Rwanda, Gatera Gashabana, the former minister once again claimed her innocence before the Court of First Instance of Nyarugenge, Kigali. The defence rested its case on 6 November.

In August 2006, she had come to testify before the ICTR for the defence of another former minister of the government in place during the genocide. At the end of her testimony she had vainly asked the ICTR, headquartered in Arusha, in northern Tanzania, to help her not return to Rwanda.

According to the indictment, she is prosecuted for planning genocide, meetings of planning and organization of genocide in Nyanza and Kibuye, her native prefecture, campaigns of distribution of weapons, assassination of Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, then Governor of Butare and godson of her husband.

On 4 November, the accused had to defend herself against new elements inserted in her case relating to her role as an approving spectator during the genocide and initiator of the genocide government.

According to the prosecutor, she notably took part, on 8 April 1994, to the meeting of the crisis committee held at the Senior Military College and presided by Theoneste Bagosora, accused before the ICTR.

Among other participants were General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, Prime Minister Jean Kambanda and President Theodore Sindikubwabo, he explained.


© Hirondelle News Agency