HUYE- The trial of Cyriaque Habyarabatuma by a Military Tribunal sitting in the district came to a close Friday with prosecution pushing for a life sentence for the former commander of the Gendarmerie in the former Butare prefecture to life in prison.
Habyarabatuma, who served as an Assistant Commissioner of Police in the Rwanda National Police, is accused of having played a prominent role in killings in the former Butare Prefecture during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
He is charged with Genocide and Complicity in Genocide in the former Butare, now Huye District in the Southern Province.
Prosecution alleges that Habyarabatuma, who was a Major in the Gendarmerie, among other crimes, trained a group of Burundian refugees who were later used in killings in Nyaruteja and Kibayi.
Habyarabatuma is also accused of complicity in the killings in Butare town, at the National University of Rwanda and the suburbs of Ngoma, Tumba, Sahera and in the areas of Matyazo, Karama, Runyinya and Maraba.
He is accused of setting up roadblocks at several points in Butare town where people with Tutsi identity cards were tortured and killed.
It is also alleged that acting on his orders, Gendarmes, armed with heavy military equipment, killed hundreds of Tutsi refugees who had camped at Cyahinda parish.
Appearing before court Thursday as defence witness, Major General Paul Rwarakabije, a former officer in the then Rwanda Armed Forces acknowledged the presence of heavy military equipment in Butare.
Prosecution also alleges that prior to 1994; Habyarabatuma was a key figure in the arrest and torture of suspected Rwanda Patriotic Front collaborators (Ibyitso) in Butare many of whom died in the process.
In a final submission, the prosecution, which produced over 30 witnesses, said that it had presented enough evidence to convict Habyarabatuma for his role in the 1994 Genocide.
“We pray court to sentence Habyarabatuma to life in prison with special provisions, we request that he be stripped of all his military ranks and other rights as stipulated by the law,” the prosecutor said in his conclusive remarks.
Habyarabatuma, in his final submissions maintained that he was not in Butare during the Genocide. His lawyer; Joseph Munyankindi, requested the court to acquit his client and reinstate him with full military benefits.
The military court, presided over by Major Chance Ndagano, set June 7 for the reading of the verdict.