Arusha ,29 January 2009 (FH) - The Military High Court of Kigali will give its verdict on 25 February over appeals filed by four former Rwandan army officers implicated in the murder of  13 Catholic Church clergymen during the 1994 genocide, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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According state-owned Radio Rwanda, the court completed Wednesday hearing the prosecutor's appeal against the acquittal of two high ranking officers-- General Wilson Gumisiriza and Major Wilson Ukwishaka-and also appeals filed by two other officers--- Captains John Butera and Diedonne Rukeba-- who pleaded guilty for the June 1994 offence and sentenced to eight years in prison each.

The two Captains are seeking the court to reverse the sentence to only two years imprisonement.

The first judgment was delivered on August 24, 2008.

The Prosecution representative, Captain Ngabo Kayijuka, told the court presided by General Patrick Nyamvumba that the lower military court had erred in law by acquitting the two senior army officers.

The lawyers of the two convicted Captains, for their part, have criticized the first judgment for not having granted sufficient weight to the guilty plea of their clients.

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

At the first instance trial, Ngabo Kayijuka had requested life in prison for General Gumisiriza and a 15-years jail for Major Ukwishaka. The prosecution wanted 15 years in prison against the two Captains, who pleaded on their own guilty of the crimes.

The two high ranking officers were tried for complicity to commit murder. The prosecution alleged that the crimes committed by their subordinates constituted an error of the chain of command responsibility.

The four soldiers were then members of the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the former rebels currently in power in Kigali which put an end to the genocide in July 1994.

The officers had been arrested on June 11, 2008, after, according to the Rwandan army, joint investigations by Rwandan and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) prosecutors.


© Hirondelle News Agency