16.10.09 - RWANDA/GACACA - A FEMALE MILITIA LEADER SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT

 

Kigali, October 19, 2009 (FH) - A female leader of the Interahamwe militia, which spearheaded the genocide in Rwanda, was convicted on Sunday to life in jail by a Gacaca Court in Butamwa (Kigali).

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Shakila Uwingabire, aged 35, was found guilty of incitement to commit genocide, of organizing and executing genocide, of criminal conspiracy, complicity in murder and the delivery of weapons.

According to several witnesses, she had been very active within the Hutu militia. A former Member of Parliament, Vénantie Kabageni, counted among her victims.

Shakila Uwingabire fled Rwanda only days prior to the opening of her trial. She had been arraigned alongside three co-defendants, all men, who appeared before the Court.

One of them was acquitted, while the two others were handed down prison sentences. Their case will be heard on appeal on Thursday.

The gacaca courts, adapted from a form of Rwandan traditional justice, are tasked with trying suspected perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide which left some 800,000  people dead, according to the UN.   These village courts, whose judges are elected from the community, can hand down sentences up to life imprisonment, which is now the maximum penalty in Rwanda. They have so far tried more than a million people.

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