Supreme Court resolves paternity row after DNA test on Genocide victim

Yves Tuyishimire (centre) with his lawyers during the hearing at the Supreme Court in Kigali on November 7, 2019. File.

Yves Tuyishimire can take pride in finally having a paternal family which had been mischievously taken away from him during a protracted legal battle that has lasted over five years.

This follows a landmark ruling by Supreme Court on Friday delivered its verdict, granting the 27-year old paternity to a man killed in the Genocide against the Tutsi, in a peculiar case that required taking DNA samples from a person deceased 25 years ago.

Tuyishimire, who was two years old in 1994, says his father is Innocent Gusenga, one of the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi and has been vindicated by court.

It has not been easy for him as he told court as besides the loss of his own parents, he has had to endure the pain of being called an impostor, by a man the highest court of the land established was actually the impostor.

Tuyishimire first petitioned court to authenticate his claim as a legitimate son to Gusenga in 2014.

At that time, the Nyarugenge Primary Court granted him legal right to the paternity and estate of his father basing on evidence including a baptism certificate, and witness accounts by family acquaintances.

In 2016, one Job Aksante, a man who was taking care of Gusenga’s property alleging to be the deceased’s brother filed a case in court, challenging Tuyishimire’s paternity to Gusenga, a plea that the Nyarugenge Primary Court dismissed.

Later in 2017, Aksante entered an appeal in the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court, where he was defeated as well, a result he decided to counter by writing to the ombudsman asking him to look into the issue.

The Ombudsman wrote to the Supreme Court, asking it to handle the case.

The Supreme Court asked for DNA examinations to be carried out on Gusenga’s remains, on Tuyishimire, Aksante, and a one Jackline Nyirabarera who is a sister to the late Gusenga.

A DNA examination was done by the Rwanda Forensic Laboratory and results that were read in court in a previous hearing earlier this month showed a strong match between Gusenga, Tuyishimire and Nyirabarera.

On the other hand, it showed almost no match between the trio and Aksante.

At that time, Chief Justice Sam Rugege who was presiding over the case said that the judgment would be delivered on 22nd this month.

Delivering the verdict today, a Lady Justice who sat in for Justice Rugege based on the DNA report to declare Tuyishimire a true son of Gusenga.

She commanded the enforcement of the Intermediate Court’s decision that granted Tuyishimire both the paternity and access to the estate of his father.

She said that the DNA report was enough evidence to base on for the verdict, and there was no need to examine other evidences.

She invalidated earlier claims by Aksante’s lawyer that the report had a lot of professional jargon, since the experts from the forensic laboratory came to court and explained the report.

Court also commanded that Tuyishimire be given compensation worth around Rwf2.2 million francs incurred in the expenses of following up the case.

Speaking to journalists after the verdict, a sobbing Tuyishimire thanked God for the results, adding that there is hope for other children that might face the same situation,

“First of all, since I am a Christian and believer in God, I want to thank God, and thank the judiciary. I also feel I should thank my mother’s family which has been close to me,” he said.

“It was hard but I thank God because I have got justice. And I believe that other children have to stand firm when they face such. I am grateful that there is justice in our country. I am also grateful for the Forensic Laboratory that was put in place and it has showcased the truth,” he said.

He reflected on the DNA process as one that was a hard one,

“My opponents asked the court for the DNA but it was like they were trying to torture me since it required the experts to open my father’s grave,” he said before he was overcome by emotions, and could not talk more.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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