Chief Justice calls for decent burial of Genocide victims at Ruhengeri court

Prof. Rugege speaks at the event. / Emmanuel Kwizera

Chief Justice Prof. Sam Rugege has called for a decent burial of Genocide victims who were killed at the former Ruhengeri Court of Appeal, currently Musanze High Court, in Musanze District, Northern Province.

Prof Rugege made the call Thursday while addressing senior officials from the justice sector attending a retreat in Nyagatare District, Eastern Province.

On 15 April 1994, over 200 Tutsi who had been brought from Busengo in Gakenke District were crammed into the courtroom.

Over 200 Tutsi were dragged into the court premises for purported protection by a precture official identified as Nzanana of Busengo in Gakenke District, who later on ordered their killing in the hearing room.

Their bodies were dumped in pits within the vicinity of the court until the end of the Genocide when authorities buried them in a temporary mass grave about 200 meters away from the court room.

The Chief Justice said the “disturbing information came to his attention recently and I requested justice officials to see how the victims could get a decent burial.

“I think it is high time the victims were buried with dignity,” said Rugege, although he did not specify the timeframe of executing the proposal.

He added that it was “disgraceful that hearings continue to take place in the same court room” where the people were massacred, suggesting the courtroom be turned into a Genocide memorial for the people who were killed in it.

“The courtroom should perhaps be abandoned for a memorial just like churches were turned into memorials for the victims killed there”.

The Chief Justice apologised for the delay to accord descent burial to the victims.

“I apologise on behalf of everyone concerned for the delay to act accordingly,” he said, adding that they would collaborate with the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) and Musanze District to achieve the objective.

Ibuka President in Musanze District, Pierre Rwasibo, told Saturday Times that they had been petitioning the judiciary to turn the courtroom into a Genocide memorial for the victims, in vain.