HUYE - Dismas Mukeshabatware, a popular radio personality and playwright, received an early Christmas gift after the Ngoma Gacaca Appeals Court acquitted him of Genocide charges yesterday.
Mukeshabatware lodged an appeal after being convicted and sentenced by a lower Gacaca court in Ngoma to a 19-year jail term in October for his alleged role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, particularly for his alleged role in the murder of Lucie Mujawamariya and her three children whose house he is said to have occupied shortly after.
The Ngoma Sector Gacaca Appeal Court presided over by Jean Bosco Nkurunziza ruled that there was no sufficient evidence to show that Mukeshabatware plotted in the killing of Mujawamariya and her three children in order to occupy her house.
It noted that no single witness testified on Mukeshabatware’s direct role in the death of the family and therefore ordered for his immediate release.
During the trial, Mukeshabatware had vehemently denied any role in the death of Mujawamariya and her three children, let alone having ever seen her.
Antoine Gatwa, the man under whose roof Mukeshabatware lived after arriving in Butare from Kigali in 1994, told court that Mujawamariya and her three children were taken by soldiers.
An excited Mukeshabatware surrounded by family members was whisked away by prison wardens to sign his release papers.
Meanwhile the relatives of the late Mujawamariya have expressed their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the case and have called for a retrial.
Leonard Nkurunziza, a relative of the deceased said that they were not informed when the case was being tried.
“We did not know that this case was being tried, we are going to appeal the courts’ decision and ask for a retrial,” he said. They have up to 15 days to appeal for a retrial according to the Gacaca Law.