Genocide survivors up in arms against Gacaca court

With the closing date of the National Gacaca Courts Service (SNJG) set for this year, Genocide survivors from Rwabutenge, in Kicukiro District say the earlier ruling in the case involving Andre Sebatware should be upheld.

With the closing date of the National Gacaca Courts Service (SNJG) set for this year, Genocide survivors from Rwabutenge, in Kicukiro District say the earlier ruling in the case involving Andre Sebatware should be upheld.

Sebatware is accused of participating in the killing of the family of Gerald Karumeyi in the 1994 against the Genocide.
The former politician in the former regimes is placed in Category One of Genocide suspects and the area court had found him guilty and ordered to compensate Karumeyi’s family. Now survivors claim that there are some attempts to retry the case by Busanza Gacaca court.

One of the late Karumenyi’s relatives told The New Times that the court is not acting independently and accuses judges of lacking impartiality.

The court had found Sebatware guilty basing on testimonies by witnesses, but the same court is allegedly now making a u-turn to retry the same case.

“We think Sebatware is influencing the court because witnesses testified against him and there is no need to repeat the case,” the family relative alleged.

He said some of the witnesses have also been framed up as a way of intimidating them and make them withdraw from the case.

On May 16, survivors of Samuduha, Kanombe in Kicukiro District petitioned the area Gacaca President to nullify the ruling against one Joseph Habimana, one of the affected witnesses.

Habimana had been sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment by Kanombe Gacaca Court for his alleged role in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

But he claimed that he was being blackmailed by a group of genocide suspects he testified against in the past, including Sebatware’s family.

Survivors petitioned the Gacaca National Jurisdiction demanding that the ruling be overturned and an independent court appointed to retry Habimana.

The appointed court later acquitted Habimana.
It is reported that some witnesses in Sebatware’s case, including Habimana, are now being targeted by Busanza Gacaca court which claims they gave false testimony.

“There is foul play and we want the truth to be told,” one area Genocide survivor who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

“They are not following the rules. They are being influenced and I know investigations will prove us right,” said another survivor who was not comfortable with this newspaper mentioning her name.

Habimana’s letter seeking justice, dated May 17, 2009, is also copied to the Executive Secretary of the National Gacaca Courts, Domitille Mukantagazwa, who could not be reached for a comment by press time.

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