Arusha 24, 2010 (FH) - The Prosecutor in the case of genocide-accused and  former Rwandan business man, Gaspard Kanyarukiga, Monday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to hand down the maximum penalty against the defendant.

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‘'The most appropriate sentence is imprisonment for the remainder of his life,'' ICTR Senior Trial Attorney Tanzanian Holo Makwaia told the attentive Chamber presided by a Jordanian Judge Taghrid Hikmet.   

The defendant, a 65-year old man is charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as crime against humanity. He denied the charges .

He was specifically accused of taking an active part in organizing and ordering killings and the demolition of Nyange Church in his native commune of Kivumu in Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda, where 2,000 Tutsi refugees hosted in the church were killed.

‘'The accused directed the driver of the bulldozer on how to destroy the church. He remained there until the church was completely destroyed on April 16, 1994,'' Makwaia said.

‘'Innocent civilians including children and women were killed brutally and in a barbaric manner in the house of God,'' charged Makwaia.

Pleading his closing argument before the court, Canadian lead defence Counsel, David Jacobs claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubts and asked the Chamber to set his client free.

‘'My client is what he is. He is an innocent man, a family man and a respected businessman,'' Jacobs claimed insisting that he was not a member of a joint criminal enterprise, as portrayed by the prosecution.

‘'He deserved to be free. He deserves his liberty,'' concluded Counsel Jacobs.

The defence wrapped its case on February 12 after presenting a total of 22 witnesses whereas the prosecution completed its case on September 17, 2009 after fielding 11 witnesses. He trial commenced on August 31, 2008.

Kanyarukiga was arrested in South Africa on July 16, 2004, and transferred to Arusha three days later.     


© Hirondelle News Agency