Arusha, 26 June, 2009 (FH)-The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday handed down a 30 years sentence on the former Rwandan Acting Interior Minister, Callixte Kalimanzira, for his role in the 1994 genocide, specifically for the killings of thousands of ethnic Tutsis at the Kabuye Hill, Butare, southern Rwanda.

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Rendering the judgement before a packed crowd, presiding Judge Dennis Byron, stated that the Chamber concluded that on 23 April, 1994, Kalimanzira came to Kabuye Hill with soldiers and policemen which resulted into killings of Tutsis refugees in thousands.

Kalimanzira will receive credit of about four years that he had been in detention in Arusha.

In another development, the trial of four military officers, including the former heads of Rwandan Army and Gendarmerie, finished on Friday at the end of the defendants' final arguments.

General Augustin Bizimungu was Chief of Staff of Army and General Augustin Ndindiliyimana was Chief of Staff of Gendarmerie at the height of the 1994 genocide.

They have been on trial since September 2004 with the former commander of the reconnaissance battalion, Major François-Nzuwonemeye, and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, who was the head of a squadron of the unit.

On Wednesday, Alphonse Van, representative of the prosecution in the trial, had requested the maximum sentence.

He said that justice will only be rendered if the accused was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Meanwhile, the Appeals Chamber of ICTR has rejected the disjoinder of proceedings which had been granted in March in the trial of the three top leaders of the then ruling former Rwandan party (MRND).

The disjoinder had been justified following the prolonged-ill health of one of the defendants, former President of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), Mathieu Ngirumpatse, who has not been able to present himself before the court for almost a year because of unknown sickness.

The First Instance Chamber, presided by Judge Dennis Byron, had considered resolving the deadlock by ordering that the patient be tried later on in a separated trial, when ready to attend the hearings.

Ngirumptase's two co-defendants, former MRND Vice-President and former Secretary-General, Edouard Karemera and Joseph Nzirorera, respectively, joined forces and sought for intervention of Appeals Chamber over the matter.

In a debate Tuesday morning in an open session, Frederic Weyl, one of the counsels of the former MRND president, asked the judges to suspend the proceedings until end of October.

The defence in trial of former Rwandan military officer, Lt. Col. Ephrem Setako, formerly rested its case on Friday after fielding a total of 34 witnesses.

Immediately after the re-examination of the accused by his American lead defence counsel, Professor Lennox Hinds, the Chamber went into closed status conference to determine the way forward.

Prosecution ended its case on April 22, 2009 after calling 20 witnesses.

Lt. Col Setako is facing six charges including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He has denied the charges.

During his entire testimony the defendant maintained that he was innocent, and among others, blamed the former United Nations Peace keeping Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) and gendarmes, for not acting to control the massacres in Rwanda in 1994.

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.

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.

 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.

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 and 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.

Meanwhile, the second defence witness for genocide-accused Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana denied on Tuesday that ethnic Tutsis were killed in 1994 at road blocks at the entry of Ngoma Military Camp, in the suburbs of Butare, southern Rwanda, which was commanded by the suspect.

Accused of genocide, Hategekimana, who has claimed his innocence, started his defence case on Monday. So far four defence witnesses have testified and the trial continues next week.

The prosecutor rested his case on 4 May.


© Hirondelle News Agency