Arusha, August 23, 2011 (FH) - The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will deliver its judgement in the case of genocide-convict, Yussuf Munyakazi, on September 28, 2011.

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On March 28, 2011, the prosecution asked the Chamber to uphold the conviction of the 76-year old former Rwandan landowner and substitute the 25 years jail term handed down to him earlier with life imprisonment.

"In this way justice will be rendered to the people of Rwanda, victims of Shangi Parish and Mibilizi church massacres and survivors of genocide,'' Trial Attorney Alphonse Van had pleaded. The two massacre sites are situated in Cyangugu Prefecture, South-West Rwanda.

Lead Counsel for the convict, Barnabé Nékuie, on the contrary, asked the Chamber to acquit his client or reduced the sentence imposed on him. He vehemently challenged Trial Chamber's findings that Munyakazi was a de facto leader of Interahamwe militias who actively took part in the massacres and denied that his client facilitated transportation of militias to the areas.

‘'Munyakazi was a simple farmer. This is mischaracterization of findings by the Trial Chamber,'' Nékuie said adding, ‘'my client was neither a de facto leader of Interahamwe nor was he an influential member in Bugarama commune.''

In his remarks, Munyakazi said ‘'I would like to say even before God, I do not have any blood on my hands on the killings (of Tutsis). If that is the case, Allah will kill me. I have never collaborated with any Interahamwe.''       

Munyakazi was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity (extermination) on June 30, 2010.

The Muslim elder was specifically found liable on the killings of approximately 5,000 Tutsis who took refugee at Shangi parish and the other group of Tutsis housed at Mibilizi church on April 29 and 30, 1994.

Munyakazi, the father of 13 children with two wives was arrested in May 2004 in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where he lived as an Imam.

His trial started on 22 April, 2009. The prosecutor rested his case on June 4, 2009 after having called 12 witnesses and the defence did the same on October 15, the same year, after presenting 20 witnesses, including Munyakazi himself.


© Hirondelle News Agency