MUHANGA – The former Mayor of Muhanga District, Augustine Hategaka, was among the several suspects who were cleared of Genocide charges by the Kicuciro Gacaca Appeal Court on Tuesday.
The former mayor had on July 8, been sentenced to life in prison without parole. The re-trial of his case was ordered after he appealed the verdict.
He was accused of allegedly providing photos and lists of teachers, who were then killed by Interahamwe militia at Kabgayi Diocese.
During the appeal, the Court president Alphonse Rugiramumaro, however, said Hategeka should be acquitted because the new evidence adduced contradicted what was earlier on given.
“Court has found that contrary to accusations of having handed over photos to killer gangs as adduced before, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the suspect did not tamper with the files of 44 Tutsi teachers as earlier on alleged ,” he said.
Other co accused who were released along with Hategeka on grounds of insufficient evidence include Jean Nkundiye, Vincent Ngarambe and Innocent Kayiranga.
“There is no sufficient evidence against the suspects and therefore court has declared the accused suspects be set free and should be released immediately,” Rugiramumaro ruled.
Witnesses had earlier on alleged that 27 teachers were lured into their deaths traps after local leaders asked them to pick up their salaries.
They would then have their pictures taken which would later on be used to track them down.
The court president rebuked two witnesses, Christine Mukankubito and Felix Gatera for providing misleading information on the case.
After the verdict, Hategeka commented: “there is justice and I am glad that the truth has come out. This trial has been fair unlike in the past ones where I was not allowed to defend myself.”
This is the sec ond time that Hategeka has been acquitted of Genocide charges.
Last year, he had been acquitted of the charges of establishing a roadblock and killing a victim in Ruvemera village.