Genocide: Supreme Court upholds 30-year jail sentence for Bandora

Charles Bandora at the Supreme Court on March 22, 2019 in Kigali. He maintained the 30 years jail term. Emmanuel Kwizera.

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the 30-year jail sentence for Genocide convict Charles Bandora which he had earlier been handed by the High Court’s specialised chamber for international crimes in 2015.

The bench, that had Chief Justice Prof. Sam Rugege as presiding judge, ruled that the testimonies by witnesses were consistent with other incriminating factors that Bandora played a key role in the Genocide against the Tutsi, especially in the current Bugesera District.

Bandora was extradited from Norway in 2013 over an indictment in which he was pinned on the Genocide in the former Ngenda Commune, now part of Bugesera.

In the presence of Bandora and his two lawyers, the court ruled that his crimes carry a life sentence but as observed by the High Court, Bandora was calm and cooperative which mitigated his sentence to 30 years.

While appealing to the Supreme Court in November 2018 Bandora submitted four grounds for his appeal, including being convicted of crimes he said he had never been tried for.

Bandora also faulted the High Court for convicting him without sufficient evidence that he had convened a meeting aimed at sensitising militiamen to kill, or that himself ordered for the killing of Tutsis.

He also implored Supreme Court to put into account his cooperation with court throughout the trial to give him a more lenient sentance.

The Supreme Court ruled that although the witnesses presented had not been in the meeting at Ruhuha trading centre, they heard the people coming out of the meeting saying that they were going to kill Tutsis which they did right away.

The meeting, which was convened on April 7 1994, specifically plotted the killing of the over 9000 Tutsi who had sought refuge at Ruhuha Catholic Parish.

“The witnesses admitted they were in a distance from the place of the meeting but what they heard was also confirmed by the killing of Tutsi families by the same people who were coming from that meeting,” Rugege said.

A Judicial Police Officer in Commune Ngenda Calixte Kayiranga, who was a Tutsi, was killed in the courtyard of the meeting venue after he had attempted to attend, according to witnesses.

Other people who were killed on that very day by the people from the meeting, according to witnesses, were the families of Gratienne Murangira, Laurent Hakizamungu, and Etienne Mugenzi.

Bandora had also challenged the fact that witnesses pinning him contradicted each other when it came to describing the car that he drove and in which he carried the militiamen as they went to kill Tusti.

Supreme Court concluded that the witnesses could not have been able to master the types of cars at the time but both agreed on the time, and the place they saw the car and the colour it was.

Bandora, as a prominent business man and vice chair for the then ruling MRND party in the former Commune Ngenda, was charged with five crimes related to the Genocide against the Tutsi.

The crimes included conspiracy and attempt to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity, murder as a crime against humanity, and forming and organising a criminal gang.

Of the five crimes prosecution charged him with, High Court came up with three which included complicity to commit genocide, accessory to the crime of genocide and extermination, as a crime against humanity.