Arusha, December 15, 2011 (FH) - The defence for ex-Rwandan military officer, Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana, Thursday requested the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to acquit its client for prosecution's failure to prove him guilty.

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"The prosecution has proved nothing here. There is no doubt Hategekimana is innocent. Find him not guilty and acquit him," the appellant's Lead Counsel Jean de Dieu Momo, told the Chamber presided by Judge Fausto Pocar.

Hategekimana, who commanded the small military camp of Ngoma, in Butare (southern Rwanda) in 1994, was sentenced to life imprisonment on December 6, 2010 for genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in massacres of some individuals and ordering genocide of Tutsi refugees at the Ngoma church.

The counsel alleged that evidence given by prosecution to substantiate the charges were not of eye witnesses, hence hearsay.

He alleged that his client's fundamental rights of fair trial and presumption of innocence had been violated. He cited examples of a written drawing posted in the ICTR corridor suggesting that Hategekimana was guilty. The counsel also said he was denied access to exculpatory materials supporting his client's innocence.

"The ICTR has trampled on these fundamental rights. There is no any other relief to remedy the situation other than immediate release. Give back his (Hategekimana) dignity and free him," the Counsel appealed.

In what appeared to support his lawyer's position, Hategekimana briefly addressed the Chamber saying, "you should not convict somebody who is innocent. I am innocent. It is better to save a guilty person rather than convicting an innocent person."

Responding to the defence submissions, the prosecution said there were no inconsistencies of evidence given by its witnesses regarding Hategekimana's presence and participation in crimes at various massacre sites.

"The evidence given in relation to the events was coherent and credible. The appellant (Hategekimana) was clearly identified. We have direct and circumstantial evidence, placing him squarely at the scene of crimes" Prosecutor Alfred Orono Orono told the Chamber.

Hategekimana was arrested in Congo Brazzaville on February 16, 2003 and transferred to Arusha UN-Detention three days later. His trial started on March 16, 2009.


© Hirondelle News Agency