Kigali, March 2, 2010 (FH) - Three survivors of the Rwanda genocide are appearing since Monday before a semi-traditional Gacaca court in Kigali for their alleged roles in the 1994 killings.

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The three --Modeste Madengeri, Michel Twagirayezu and Abdou Kamuzinzi-are charged for crimes committed in Nyakabanda, Kigali. They have pleaded not guilty.

"I didn't kill anybody. This trial is twisted, it's a settling of scores", claimed Madengeri, who worked as a Red Cross driver in Kigali.

About ten prosecution witnesses alleged that he was spotted at a roadblock where eight Tutsis were killed. They further claimed that Madengeri carried a weapon and that he profaned the body of a man named Jean Damascene Gakwaya.

However, the mother of a victim killed at the roadblock and Jean Gakwaya's son are defending the accused, pointing out that some of the prosecution witnesses who had testified, have been charged by the accused during previous trials.

Twagirayezu, who had moved to Nyakabanda district less than a month before the genocide, is accused of drawing up a list of Tutsis to be killed.

He also allegedly killed an entire Tutsi family at a roadblock.

On the contrary, Twagirayezu claimed that some members of his own family were killed at that roadblock and that their bodies were left to dogs and other animals. "Where are my accusers", he asked the packed courtroom. Nobody stood up to answer the question.

The third accused, Kamunzinzi, is charged for participating in several murders in the district. Among his top accusers is Gregoire Nyirimanzi, a former counsel in Nyakabanda district who has been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in jail.

The Gacaca courts are tasked with trying suspected perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide which left some 800,000 people dead, according to the UN estimates. 

These traditional courts, whose judges are elected from the community, can hand down sentences up to life imprisonment, which is now the maximum penalty in Rwanda.

Gacaca courts have so far tried about one million people.


© Hirondelle News Agency