Arusha, 16 December 2008 (FH) - The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will render a ruling on February 2, 2009 in the appeal case of former Kigali Rural Prefect, François Karera, sentenced for life imprisonment on December 7, 2007 after he had been found guilty of genocide, extermination and murder.

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According to the judgment, Karera incited, helped and encouraged the massacres of Tutsis between April and June, 1994 in the commune of Rushashi and in the church of Ntarama as in Nyamirambo, a district of Kigali where he had a residence.

At the time of the appeal hearing on August 28, the former prefect, 69, claimed his innocence once again. "I rely on the wisdom of the Appeal Chamber which I humbly ask to acquit me of all the counts charged", stated the former administrative official.

The defendant said he was very much disturbed when he saw "murderers" of his family testifying against him before the court of first instance. Karera explained the reasons why some of his relatives had been killed in 1994 saying it was because of "the historical links" that his family maintained with Tutsis.

He ventilated his disappointment as he claimed that judges in the court of first instance did not take into consideration his defence of alibi moved before the court by his lead counsel, Carmelle Marchessault which he thought was "a major defence point in his trial".

Co-counsel for the accused, Alexandre Bergevin, supported that the defendant was at the residence of his son Ignace at the university campus of Nyakinama, in Ruhengeri prefecture, northern Rwanda, between April 7 and 19, 1994.

"The alibi of François Karera was proven beyond any reasonable doubt," protested the lawyer.

Bergevin stressed that his client could not, from his refuge place in Nyakinama go to Kigali or Ntarama, the usual access roads being then under the control of the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), currently in power.

"The witnesses said that it was difficult to travel through Rwanda in 1994; but none said that it was impossible", replied, Dior Fall, from the office of the prosecutor.

"The defendant had the possibility of travelling and of going to the location of the crimes", continued Fall and finally asked the Appeal Chamber to "confirm the sentence" rendered by Trial Chamber.

The former prefect was arrested in Nairobi, in Kenya, on October 20, 2001 and was transferred the following day to the ICTR detention, in Arusha, northern Tanzania.


© Hirondelle News Agency