14.10.09 - RWANDA/GACACA - GACACA: EX-SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT APPEALS AGAINST HIS LIFE IMPRISONMENT

Kigali, October 14, 2009 (FH) - The former Speaker of Rwandan Chamber of Deputies, Alfred Mukezamfura, who was found guilty of genocide and sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment by the semi-popular Gacaca Court last month, has appealed against the ruling.
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The Nyakabanda sector Gacaca Court, Kigali, sentenced Mukezamfura to life jail while he was outside the country for several months for medical reasons.

Local newspapers reported that the former Speaker of the lower house of parliament had actually fled Rwanda to escape jail.

Philibert Munyandinda, President of the Gacaca Court, told Hirondelle News Agency on Tuesday that he had received a "hand-written appeal" of Mukezamfura.

The former President of the Chamber of Deputies, who worked as a journalist in 1994, was convicted for an editorial published during the genocide in the government-owned newspaper Imvaho. The jury equated the article to incitement to commit genocide.

After 1994, Mukezamfura quit journalism for a political career and was elected, in 2003, into the lower house of parliament of which he became the Speaker. However, in the wake of serious accusations leveled against him, he did not run for re-election in September 2008.

Several other former members of the Chamber of deputies have also been convicted on charges of genocide by Gacaca Courts, amongst them Elisee Bisengimana and Emmanuel Mwumvaneza, both affiliates of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF, currently in power), as well as Etienne Magali from the Liberal Party (PL).

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