A Rwandan court has sentenced nine people to death and another one to life imprisonment over the killing of a genocide survivor who was due to testify under the Gacaca justice system, a leader of a genocide survivors’ association told IRIN on Friday.
The Rwandan Court of First Instance ruled that the nine were guilty of jointly killing Emile Ntahimana in November 2003 in the southwestern province of Gikongoro.
Four genocide survivors were reported to have been killed in Gikongoro in late 2003 by a group of genocide suspects in order to prevent the survivors from testifying in the Gacaca justice system, introduced in the country in 2001.
"We are pleased with the latest ruling of the court," Boniface Nkusi, the Gikongoro head of the genocide survivor organisation known as IBUKA, said.
IBUKA is an umbrella organisation for groups of genocide survivors' associations.
The latest convictions bring to 14 the number of people sentenced to death and three to life imprisonment for killing genocide survivors. Last week the court sentenced five people to death and two to life imprisonment for killing Charles Rutinduka, another potential witness in the Gacaca trials.
Gacaca, based on a traditional communal justice where elders at the village level judge offenders, was introduced to speed up trials for an estimated 85,000 suspects held in Rwanda's prisons, in connection with the genocide that claimed the lives of at least 800,000 people.
Earlier reports indicated that several genocide survivors had fled Gikongoro for fear of becoming targets of killings that had rocked the area.
"This should be a lesson for those in this province that still harbour genocide ideologies in this area," Nkusi told IRIN.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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