The Military High Court has sentenced Private Théogène Munyembabazi to life in prison and stripped him of his military ranks for killing five people and injuring six others in a shooting spree.
The incident took place earlier in August at Hunters Sport, a night club in Gisuma Cell, Byumba Sector, Gicumbi District.
Eye witnesses said it all started when the suspect wanted to dance with a lady, Flavia Kayitesi, who was in the company of a male companion but she refused prompting the suspect to slap her.
Kayitesi’s friend intervened and fought with the soldier. Revelers joined in the confrontation and threw the soldier out.
He then went to his camp and returned to the night club armed with a gun and shot indiscriminately into the crowd, killing four people on the spot, including Kayitesi, and injuring others. Another person died in hospital later.
The ruling which, lasted for less than 30 minutes, was held at Gicumbi District Main Hall which was packed to capacity, with people including family members of the victims. It was presided over by Maj. Charles Madudu.
“The Military High Court has found Pt. Munyambabazi guilty of intentionally killing five people and injuring six others. It sentences him to life in jail,” ruled Maj. Madudu.
He also said lawyers who represented families of the victims had filed claims that the convict was a government employee and that the government should help him pay fines and indemnities.
The lawyers also accused government of letting an employee go out with a gun, saying it should assume responsibilities for its employee’s actions.
But state attorneys argued that at the time the accused was employed, he fulfilled all requirements but changed later and that he was not on duty when he committed the crime.
The judge ordered that, besides the life imprisonment, Pt. Munyambabazi pays over Rwf80 million to family members and lawyers.
Families of the deceased welcomed the decision but feared that reparations would not be paid on the grounds that the government had refused to be enjoined in paying the penalties.
“I lost my beloved son but I doubt the criminal can afford to pay reparations,” said Sophala Musanabera, the mother of one of the deceased.
There was no mention whether any party would lodge an appeal against the court’s decision.