Kigali, December 14, 2009 (FH) - Valerie Beremeki, a former anchorwoman of the extremist Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), and a well-known Rwandan singer, Juvénal Masabo Nyangezi, have both been found guilty of complicity in genocide and sentenced to life in prison last week.

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Thursday, the Gacaca court of Ntyazo, in Nyanza district, meted out life imprisonment to Juvénal Masabo Nyangezi. The singer, who was tried in absentia, was found guilty of "incitement to commit genocide in the prefectures of Butare and Gikongoro", in the south of Rwanda.

Saturday, a Gacaca court in Nyakabanda (Kigali) found Valerie Beremiki, 54, guilty of "planning of genocide, incitement to commit genocide, complicity in murder of several people and families ".

During her trial, the anchorwoman admitted having used the RTLM to launch appeals to flush out and kill Tutsis.

When RTLM was founded in 1993, Beremeki was working as a "war correspondent" for Umurwanashyaka , a newspaper owned by the ruling party, the MRND. When she was recruited by the RTLM, she was asked to "fight the Tutsi enemy with a microphone".

Valerie Beremiki was arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and transferred to Rwanda in June 1999. She has already been condemned to a prison term by other Gacaca courts.

Also on Saturday December 12, a famous Rwandan actor and playwright, Dismas Mukeshabatware, was testifying in his own defense before an Appeals Gacaca court in Ngoma (district of Huye). In October, he had been condemned to 19 years in prison at first instance for having been found guilty of complicity in the murder of a Tutsi woman in 1994.

Mukeshabatware came to Ngoma in April 1994 from Kigali where he lived at the time. He was then a member of the well-known theatre company Indamutsa which was part of Radio Rwanda. He continued to work for the National Radio after the genocide.

Mukeshabatware gained a reputation for his sense of humour, his versatile talent of impersonation and his command of the subtleties of the Rwandan language. He hails from the former prefecture of Gikongoro, neighbouring the prefecture of Butare.

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.


© Hirondelle News Agency