Arusha, November 8, 2010 (FH) - The Prosecution Monday requested the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to hand down life imprisonment sentence to former Rwandan Director in the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs, Jean-Baptiste Gatete, if convicted of offences allegedly committed in 1994.

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"The only sentence he deserves is life imprisonment for each offence he may be convicted of. There is no little sentence that can be given," Trial Attorney Drew White told a Chamber presided over by Judge Khalida Khan, when presenting the prosecution closing remarks.  

According to him, there was strong evidence presented before the court by prosecutions witnesses detailing about the killers and the victims and also what the accused did himself.

Gatete has denied charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.

His lead counsel Marie-Pierre Poulain requested for acquittal because of the allegedly prosecution's failure to substantiate the charges beyond reasonable doubts.

"The accused is presumed innocent and the prosecution bears obligation to prove its case. Since the prosecution chose to bring charges against him, then has to prove to the highest standard. The prosecution has failed to do so," the counsel submitted.

She cited several shortcomings including contradictions and hearsay evidence given by prosecution witnesses, saying, "This is a fundamental fault on the prosecution. We cannot take these inconsistencies lightly. They go directly to the root of the prosecution's case."

Gatete, who also served as mayor of Murambi commune in Byumba prefecture (Northeast Rwanda) between 1987 and 1993, was relieved of his duty amidst allegations of persecuting Tutsis. But soon after, he was appointed Director in the Women and Family Affairs Ministry then headed by Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who is also on trial before the ICTR.   

He was a member of the National Congress of former ruling party MRND and was active in party politics both at national and provincial level. He allegedly continued to control local police, gendarmes and militiamen in the Byumba and Kibungo prefectures after his dismissal and used his influence to organize massacres of Tutsis in both prefectures.

The defendant was arrested in Congo-Brazzaville on September 11, 2002, and subsequently transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha.  His trial started on October 20, 2009. The Defence closed its case on March 29, 2010 after fielding 27 witnesses while the prosecution closed its case on November 16, 2009 after calling 22 witnesses.


© Hirondelle News Agency