Genocide convict Charles Bandora yesterday appealed his 30-year sentence in the Supreme Court in Kigali. He was found guilty for Genocide committed in the former Commune Ngenda (currently Bugesera District) by the High Court Specialised Chamber for International Crimes in May 2015.
The 65-year-old was extradited in 2013 from Norway on an international arrest warrant over Genocide crimes.
Bandora who was a prominent business man and vice chairman of the ruling MRND party during the Genocide, denied having held a meeting at Ruhuha with other prominent in Commune Ngenda to plot exterminating Tutsis in the area.
The High Court had found him guilty for arranging, chairing the meeting on April 7, 1994 to kill Tutsis who had taken refuge at Ruhuha Catholic Parish and the entire commune.
Over 9000 Tutsis are buried at Ruhuha Genocide memorial site.
Bandora’s lawyers, Bruce Bikotwa and Jeanne d’Arc Umutesi, told the court that the accusations upon which the former court based had no substantial evidence.
They appealed that: “The witnesses on the prosecution’s side never attended the alleged meeting nor heard what was being discussed in the alleged meeting. We find such witness to be too weak to deem our client guilty”.
Most of the witnesses were Tutsis hiding nearby and could not approach the house for fear of being killed, they added.
Umutesi concluded that the meeting put forth by the witnesses was just hearsay that should not be based on to convict Bandora.
“What really happened is that Bandora’s house was looted and he was called from his residential home at Kayigi with his workers to the business house at Ruhuha” she said.
Among the witnesses was a 14-year-old boy by the time of Genocide who the appellants dismiss as being too young to rely on for evidence.
Faustin Nkusi on the side of prosecution stressed that the law allows witnesses from 12 years and above.
Nkusi further said that the evidence provided for the meeting having chaired by Bandora is clear and enough.
“Witnesses may differ about the exact time of the meeting but the setting of the place, the day and the people involved are consistent in every witness’s stories” Nkusi said.
He added that although the witnesses were not in the meeting, the implications of the meeting are not to be ignored, saying that no sooner had Bandora and his fellows got left the house than the killings started.
The Judicial Police Officer (OPJ) Calixte Kayiranga was killed in the courtyard of the house in broad day light. And the killing spread to other Tutsis in the area, said Nkusi.
He mentioned that fellow businessmen who were in the meeting provided machetes for killing Tutsis immediately after the meeting.
Supreme Court president Prof Sam Rugege adjourned the hearing to January 28, 2019.