Arusha, 27 April 2009 (FH) - The defence of former Butare Governor, Sylvain Nsabimana, 56, Monday urged the Trial Chamber to set free the Rwanda genocide-suspect on grounds that the prosecution has failed to prove its case.

1 min 22Approximate reading time

Nsabimana is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity alongside five others before the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Presenting the closing arguments before a three-man bench Chamber, Cameroonian lead defence counsel, Josette Kadji, submitted that Nsabimana, contrary to the prosecution allegations that he incited, abated and planned genocide, she insisted that in actual fact the suspect had called upon people not to engage into the killings at meetings which he was able to attend in Butare prefecture, Southern Rwanda in 1994.

The defendant is charged with nine counts, including genocide, murder, incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and complicity to commit genocide.

‘'Nsabimana never asked anyone to kill Tutsis,'' lamented counsel Kadji, adding that he used little resources available to save hundreds of people who had no relationship with him.

She pleaded with Trial Chamber II, presided by Tanzanian Judge William Sekule, that while contemplating the sentence, the bench should also consider that her client had no criminal records before the 1994 events, showed remorse for the tragedy and that he never denied that genocide occurred in Rwanda.

Earlier, the counsel accused the prosecution for engaging into rhetoric without showing legal means within which her client could have used to stop genocide, adding he had no authority to order neither the army nor the gendarmerie to put the killing spree under control.

Nsabimana was Governor between 19 April and 17 June before he was replaced by Alphonse Nteziryayo.

Nteziryayo's defence Monday started to present their closing arguments.

Other accused  in the so-called "Butare Trial" are: Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the only woman to be indicted by the UN Tribunal for genocide and former Rwandan minister for Family and Women Affairs and her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, who both have already made their last submissions, and two former Mayors, Joseph Kanyabashi and Elie Ndayambaje.

Closing arguments will continue Tuesday in the trial, which is longest and largest. It commenced in June 2001.


© Hirondelle News Agency