Arusha, November 5, 2009 (FH) - Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Wednesday urged maximum life imprisonment for the former Rwandan military officer, Lt. Col Ephrem Setako, if convicted for his participation in the 1994 genocide.

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The former head of Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Defence is facing six charges, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He denied the charges.

‘'I propose a maximum sentence of life imprisonment ,'' Prosecution counsel Ifeoma Ojemeni Okali responded to presiding Judge Eric Mose, who wanted to know the prosecutor's punishment proposition.

She said the gravity of the offences charged must be proportionate with the sentence to be rendered.

Okali said Setako was duty bound to uphold the sanctity of human life by taking right steps to ensure that civilian population was protected, especially the Tutsis,  who were targeted for the slaughter. 

The prosecution, among other things, alleged that the defendant incited people to commit genocide and participated in meetings held at Joseph Nzirorera's mother's house in Mukingo commune in Ruhengeri prefecture as part of a joint criminal enterprise with other authorities to plan the massacres against Tutsi.

Nzirorera, former Secretary General of the presidential party, MRND, is being tried jointly with two other senior leaders of the party - former President, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and its Vice President, Edouard Karemera.

Lead defence counsel for the accused, Professor Lennox Hinds, on his part claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove that his client was part of the planners of genocide as alleged in the indictment.

Prosecution ended its case on April 22, 2009 after calling 20 witnesses whereas the defence fielded 35 witnesses.  


© Hirondelle News Agency