Kigali, August 17, 2011 (FH) - Rwandan genocide survivors' group Ibuka on Wednesday expressed indignation at the  acquittal of former presidential advisor Runyinya Barabwiriza and called on police to make sure Barabwizira, who is now free but whose case is on appeal, does not flee the country.

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Barabwiriza was kept in detention for sixteen years before being acquitted of all charges on August 11 by a court in Huye, southern Rwanda. The charges included planning and inciting genocide. Barabwiriza was diplomatic advisor to the late president Juvénal Habyarimana.

Pronouncing his acquittal, the Huye court said it found contradictions in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses. According to his lawyer Protais Mutembe, Barabwiriza was released the day after the verdict and has since been living in Kigali.

In its written statement in kinyarwanda, Ibuka "requests that the security forces watch closely Doctor Runyinya Barabwiriza to prevent him from fleeing" Rwanda.

The organization adds that it is "not pleased with the court's decision and supports the Prosecution's decision to file an appeal".

Barabwiriza had been on trial since April this year. He presented as an alibi his absence from Rwanda during most of the genocide.

As a member of Habyarimana's diplomatic delegation, Barabwiriza was stuck in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from April 6 to July 5, 1994. Habyarimana was killed on April 6, 1994, when his plane was shot down over Kigali returning from Tanzania.

The prosecutor had argued, however, that Barabwiriza planned genocide before April 6, 1994, and that massacres perpetrated after that date were the result of his planning. On June 28, the prosecution asked the court to sentence Barabwiriza to life imprisonment.

Barabwiriza, a botanist by training, taught at the National University of Rwanda as well as advising Habyarimana. From June 1993 he also headed the president's MRND party in the southern Butare prefecture.

"Nobody should ignore the role of Rwanda's University scholars, who spearheaded the planning of the Tutsi genocide," Ibuka stated.


© Hirondelle News Agency