Arusha, September 21, 2011 (FH) - The prosecution Wednesday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to hand down a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for former Rwandan mayor, Gregoire Ndahimana if found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.

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‘'When Gregoire Ndahimana told the people to go, they went, when he told them to shoot, they shot. Ndahimana should be sentenced to life imprisonment because of the acts performed by him and also in his capacity as mayor of Kivumu commune,'' Prosecution attorney, Althea Alexis-Windsor told the Chamber presided by Judge Florence Rita Arrey during presentation of closing arguments.

The defendant is mainly charged with crimes committed in Kivumu commune, Kibuye prefecture (Western Rwanda) where he was Mayor during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He is specifically accused of planning and ordering the destruction of Nyange church in his commune alongside other authorities, killing about 2,000 Tutsi refugees who had sought shelter on April 16, 1994.

‘'Ndahimana betrayed the trust of his people. He was the principal participant of the destruction of Nyange church, causing death of 2,000 Tutsi refugees,'' the attorney charged adding that ‘'he ordered the policemen to shoot at the church and even shot at the church himself.''

She said that the accused was not charged for stealing mangos but rather for ‘'crimes of crimes'' and that ‘'the most fitting sentence is life imprisonment.''

Earlier, senior trial attorney, Holo Makwaiya told the Chamber that prosecution witnesses proved beyond reasonable doubts that the defendant was ‘'a man of the moment, he led the attackers by examples, gave them means and facilitated every move.''

‘'After the destruction of the church, Ndahimana drank beers in celebration of the death of Tutsis,'' Makwaiya quoted part of the evidence from prosecution witnesses.

Immediately after taking over the floor, Barat Chadha, Lead defence counsel for the accused claimed that his client was not around during the time of the alleged commission of crimes. ‘'His participations in the events are pure imagination of the prosecution,'' he said.

Ndahimana was arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on August 10, 2009 and then transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha on August 21, the same year. His trial opened on September 6, 2010. The prosecution called 15 witnesses whereas the defence fielded 30 in defence of their client.


© Hirondelle News Agency