The Court of Appeal in Kigali has fined senior lawyer Gatera Gashabana for not filing defence submissions in the appeal case of convicted former Justice minister Agnes Ntamabyariro.
Ntamabyariro is in the appeal court where she is challenging the life sentence handed to her by a lower court for her role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The appeal was supposed to begin in substance on Thursday but not only was Gashabana absent when the bench entered the trial chamber, he had not filed online submissions pleading the case on behalf of his client.
He only arrived after the court session, attended by Ntamabyariro and prosecutors, had been concluded and the judge had already imposed the Rwf300,000 fine against Gashabana.
Previously in March this year, Gashabana was faulted for not filing his submission in the judicial online system for prosecution to be able to access and prepare their counter arguments.
The court then ordered the lawyer and his client Ntamabyariro to file the submissions by April 18 while prosecution was to file their counter-submissions by April 25.
The jury of three said that it is impossible for the court to hear a case whose submission has not been in the online system.
All judicial officers – judges, prosecutors and lawyers have access to the online system, known as Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS), which was set up to ease delivery of justice.
The law stipulates fines between Rwf200,000 – Rwf500,000 for a party that delays the case hearing by not doing what they are required of.
Ntamabyariro appealed against the life sentence she was handed by High Court in 2015 for orchestrating the killing of thousands of Tutsi in Kabgayi Catholic Parish in the current Muhanga District.
The 82-year-old was minister of Justice in the run-up to and during the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
The hearing was adjourned to June 13, 2019 while Gashabana was obliged to file his legal submission on Ntamabyariro’s case by May 25.
Prosecution will submit their reaction to the appellant’s submission by June 31, 2019, court ruled.
According to the court, failure for Gashabana to file his submission will lead to the suspension of the case until further notice.