24.06.09 - ICTR/MUVUNYI - PROSECUTION WRAPS UP ITS CASE IN MUVUNYI’S RE-TRIAL

Arusha, 24 June, 2009 (FH)-The Prosecution wrapped up its case Monday in the re-trial of genocide-accused former Rwandan Military Officer, Liutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, after fielding a total of six witnesses, including a linguistic expert, Evariste Ntakurutimana.
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The 56-years-old Muvunyi was the first suspect to be retried by the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The re-trial began on 17 June. The defence is scheduled to make its submissions on 19 August, reports Hirondelle Agency.

The former military officer was tried over a speech he allegedly made at a public meeting in the Gikore Trade Centre in Butare, southern Rwanda, at the end of May 1994.

A Senior Prosecuting Attorney, Charles Adeogun-Phillips, claimed on the opening day that Muvunyi expressed virulent anti-Tutsi sentiments in traditional proverbs while calling on the local population to exterminate all Tutsis, including women and children.

"The people understood these proverbs to mean exterminating the Tutsis and the meetings nearly always resulted in the massacre of Tutsis who were living in the commune or who had taken refuge in the commune," he added.

Prosecutors also maintain that Muvunyi played a leading role in organising and carrying out massacres in Butare, where he was Commander of the École des sous-officiers (ESO).

The tribunal, in 2006, had already found Muvunyi guilty of genocide, direct and public incitation to commit genocide and inhumane acts as a crime against humanity and sentenced him to 25 years imprisonment.

But in an unprecedented move, in August last year, the Appeals Chamber quashed the sentence. It ruled that there was insufficient evidence for his conviction on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. However, they ordered a partial re-trial in which he was solely charged with direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to his speech in Butare.

Muvunyi was arrested in February 2000 in the United Kingdom and was transferred to Arusha seven months later. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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© Hirondelle News Agency