16.12.08 - RWANDA/GACACA - GACACA APPEALS COURT BEGAN HEARING OF A CASE AGAINST FORMER MILITIAMAN

Kigali, 16 December 2008 (FH) - The Gacaca appeals court of the Nyamirambo sector, in Kigali district, last Sunday began the hearing of an appeal case of former interahamwe militiaman, Védaste Nzabamwita, prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity.
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Nzabamwita, 48, is charged with "complicity in the murder of François Ruzindana , the family of Venant Sezibera, a young man named Gilbert and several other unidentified people, all killed in Gatare cell of the Nyamirambo sector," according to the indictment.

During the proceedings which lasted nearly five hours, the defendant pleaded not guilty to all the counts charged in spite of the overwhelming evidence given by half a dozen witnesses, noted Hirondelle News Agency.

In addition to the organization and participation in the night rounds and road blocks, many witnesses emphasized his participation and active membership of interahamwe militia. The accused admitted these facts, but denied any responsibility in the death of any of the victims.

In mid August, Nzabamwita was found guilty of all counts and had been sentenced to 19 years in prison by the court of the sector, without the possibility of parole as he did not plead guilty.

The court expected to hear next Sunday testimonies of the accomplices of the defendant who have already been convicted for such crimes, the president of the court, Mister Musefano said.

Inspired by traditional village assemblies during which wise men settled disagreements, the semi-traditional "gacaca" courts have the role of trying the majority of people suspected of having participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

SRE/PB/NI/GF

© Hirondelle News Agency