Activist handed 19-year jail term

The Biryogo Gacaca Appeal Court has confirmed a 19-year prison sentence for François-Xavier Byuma, a children’s rights activist charged with Genocide crimes.

The Biryogo Gacaca Appeal Court has confirmed a 19-year prison sentence for François-Xavier Byuma, a children’s rights activist charged with Genocide crimes.

Byuma had been sentenced early last month by the Biryogo Gacaca court in Nyamirambo Sector, Nyarugenge District. He appealed in the Gacaca Appeal Court of Biryogo. But his appeal was dismissed after he failed to prove errors that he had claimed in the lower court’s judgment.

The appeal court upheld judgement and confirmed the 19-year sentence early this week.
Byuma is guilty of attempted murder of one Batamuriza and exposing her to killing fields, mounting roadblocks and illegal possession of fire arms during the 1994 Genocide.

Court also found him guilty of  having undergone military training in a militia group, Irebero, one of the perpetrators of Genocide.

He was a member of the Hutu-extremist party CDR (Coalition pour la Defense de la Republique-IMPUZAMUGAMBI).

Asked why Byuma’s case took long before coming to court, the Executive Secretary for National Gacaca Jurisdiction, Domitilla Mukantaganzwa said that the case’s file numbering was further down the initially collected data.

Mukantaganzwa, however, said that Byuma can still request for his case to be reviewed by the Gacaca court.

Byuma is former head of Turengere Abana, a children’s rights organisation.

His organisation had previously clashed with Saudi Imanzi, the presiding judge of Biryogo Gacaca Court of First Instance. Byuma had accused Imanzi of having raped a 17-year-old girl, and therefore claimed he could not try him.

But Byuma’s claims were turned down, considered baseless and Imanzi went ahead to chair the panel of Gacaca judges who sentenced him to 19 years.

Mukantaganzwa said that the national service for Gacaca jurisdiction acknowledged Byuma’s worries and delegated a team of Gacaca experts to monitor his case.

“We took the necessary precautions by delegating a team to follow-up the case and recorded audio-visual proceedings. Everything was done in a proper and right way,” she explained.

She added that Byuma may not benefit from the community service programme (TIG) because he refused to confess and ask for forgiveness before Gacaca.
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