Arusha, April 28, 2010 (FH) - The Prosecution requested on Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) a life term sentence against  former Rwandan military officer Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana if convicted for the offences allegedly committed in 1994.

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A native of Mugina, in the former prefecture of Gitarama, central Rwanda, Hategekimana has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including genocide, crimes against humanity, murder and rape.

Presenting his closing remarks, Prosecution counsel William Egbe from Cameroon said the evidence adduced by several witnesses and exhibits before the Chamber showed that "the accused is directly responsible in the killings of numerous people in extremely brutal manner.''

According to the indictment, the massacres against ethnic Tutsis were allegedly carried out at Ngoma parish, Matyazo primary school, Matyazo dispensary and at Beneberika Convent in Butare prefecture, Southern Rwanda, between April and May 1994.

The prosecution alleges that the accused was present when soldiers from Ngoma military camp, where he was then the commander, and armed civilians actively participated in the massacres. 

‘'Taking into consideration the gravity of the offences, individual and superior responsibilities, absence of mitigating factors, the prosecution proposes the most appropriated sentence for the defendant to be imprisonment for the remainder of his life for each count found guilty,'' Egbe emphasized.

However, defence counsel Togolese Ahlonko Dovi claimed that the prosecution did not prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

‘'Serve justice to Hategekimana by simply acquitting him for the sole reason of inadequate evidence,'' counsel pleaded before the Chamber, presided by Judge Arlette Ramaroson from Madagascar and flanked by judges Joseph Masanche of Tanzania and Taghrid Hikmet of Jordan.

The accused himself was not in court during the defence submissions as he is protesting that his lead defence counsel did not adequately represent him.

The prosecution concluded its case on May 4, 2009 after presenting 20 witnesses and the defence rested its case on October 7, same year, after fielding the same number of witnesses.

This trial started on March 16, 2009. Hategekimana is one of the few ICTR accused who did not take witness stand in person to defend himself.


© Hirondelle News Agency