Kigali, March 10, 2010 (FH) - Modeste Madengeri, a Tutsi from Nyakabanda (Kigali) accused of participating in the 1994 genocide was acquitted on Tuesday after a dramatic trial, Hirondelle News Agency reports.

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"This trial was trumped up, based on false accusations," the Gacaca court in Kigali concluded. "Old scores were settled. Madengeri is acquitted."

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

However, the defendant had testified against all seven witnesses during previous trials.

The Gacaca court concluded that they had agreed to make up allegations against Madengeri to get revenge.

Last Friday, the same court acquitted six other Tutsis who had also been accused of participating in the 1994 genocide.

Two of them, Stanislas Sibomana and his wife Monique Mukamana were accused of participating in genocide planning meetings, notably on April 4, 1994, at the Baobab Hotel behind Kigali regional stadium.

Former préfet of Kigali Tharcisse Renzaho, former Secretary General of the MRND Joseph Nzirorera and former ministry of Trade Justin Mugenzi were allegedly some of the political leaders who took part in this meeting.

Renzaho has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the ICTR, Nzirorera is at the moment on trial before the same jurisdiction whereas Mugenzi is awaiting his verdict.

The judges concluded that there was no evidence proving that the couple attended the meeting.

The four other survivors were accused of murdering several Tutsis at different roadblocks in Kigali. "There is no evidence to sustain these accusations (...) On the contrary, it has been proven that the defendants'  families were killed at roadblocks and that they survived only by a miracle." It was again a settling of scores, the judges concluded.

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