30.10.09 - RWANDA/GACACA - HARSHER SENTENCE ON APPEAL FOR WOMAN DOCTOR

Kigali, October 30, 2009 - A Gacaca court in Tumba (Butare) handed down on appeal a life sentence on Doctor Jeanne-Marie Nduwamariya, who had been convicted on first hearing to seven years in prison for her role in the 1994 genocide.

 

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In 1994, she worked at Kabutare Hospital in Butare (Southwestern Rwanda). She was convicted on October 15 for commissioning killers to slay a Tutsi woman. However, the killers did not find the designated victim in her supposed hide-out.

The plaintiffs lodged an appeal on the grounds that Jeanne-Marie Nduwamariya should have also been sentenced for "planning and organizing the genocide, and incitement to commit genocide."

The second jury followed this line of argument and sentenced the defendant to the maximum penalty.

Jeanne-Marie Nduwamariya was tried in absentia. Her husband, himself a physician, had already been convicted in absentia by the same Gacaca Court. The couple fled Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide.

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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