Arusha, August 22, 2011 (FH) - The Prosecution requested on Monday the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to hand down life imprisonment for genocide, among other crime, on two top leaders of the former Rwandan ruling party, Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, respectively the erstwhile President and Vice-President of the MRND.

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"They built an engine, the Interahamwe [militia], they oiled and started that engine and removed all obstacles. Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera are guilty of crimes against humanity. The only appropriate punishment for them is life imprisonment," Prosecuting Attorney Sunkarie Ballah-Conteh told the Trial Chamber presided by Judge Dennis Byron, when presenting her closing arguments.

The prosecutor from Sierra Leone submitted that the accused, both members of the executive bureau of the MRND, wielded "power and influence for destructive purposes."

According to her, the defendants actively participated in a joint criminal enterprise with the objective of destroying Tutsis using the Interahamwe militia for their common purpose. "They organized these Interahamwe. They turned the Interahamwe, the youth wing of the party, into a deadly machinery to kill and rape Tutsis", she said.

Supporting her arguments, Chief Prosecutor Richard Karegyesa upheld that the duo was part of a group most responsible for organizing and executing the systematic murder of Tutsi civilians during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

"Karemera and Ngirumpatse, who were both highly trained, privileged sons of Rwanda, among the best and the brightest of their generation, who were both jurists and incumbents of the highest office of state, turned their learning,the high esteem in which they were held and their overwhelming personal power and influence into lethal weapons of destruction," he argued.

He added: "They formed the interim government and guided, implemented and defended its genocidal policies. They used the Interahamwe and the legitimacy and authority of the interim government, both of which they had a hand in creating, to extend the genocide of the Tutsi nationwide".

"Without the Interahamwe, the systematic killing and raping of Tutsis could never have occurred such a massive scale. They responded to the authority of the accused," he concluded.

The session continues Tuesday with Karemera's Defence counsel due to respond to the Prosecution's submissions.

Ngirumpatse and Karemera are charged with seven counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed by members of their party and, in particular, its youth wing, the Interahamwe.   

The prosecution has indicted the accused for their superior responsibility as top officials of the party. Ngirumpatse was arrested on June 11, 1998 in Mali and transferred to Arusha United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF) a month later. Karemera was apprehended on June 5, 1998 in Togo and transferred to the UNDF on July 5, 1998.


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