ARUSHA – The Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has requested the tribunal to render a life sentence to former military officer Tharcisse Muvunyi for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Senior trial attorney Ibunokulu Babajide made the request yesterday during the closing arguments from prosecution and defence before Trial Chamber III of the court presided over by Judge Dennis Byron.
The counsel said that Muvunyi was among the influential leaders in Butare, now Southern Province, who incited the local population to exterminate the Tutsi.
“A life sentence is the only punishment that befits the role he played in the 1994 Genocide,” the Nigerian born prosecutor said.
To prove their point, the prosecution added that the accused used inflammatory language during a meeting he held with the local population in Gakore, Southern Province where he referred to the Tutsi as snakes.
Using traditional proverbs, prosecution said, Muvunyi successfully managed to incite local populations to exterminate the Tutsi.
The most notable proverb that has been frequently referred to during the re-trial of the accused, was one where he allegedly said: ‘Iyo inzoka yiziritse ku gisabo, nta kundi bigenda barakimena’ loosely translated to mean that “when a snake coils itself around a calabash, there remains no other alternative but to smash the calabash.”
The former military officer’s re-trial began in June this year with the prosecution presenting six witnesses while the defence fielded seven witnesses.