HUYE - THE military tribunal sitting in Huye District, yesterday sentenced Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Cyriaque Habyarabatuma, to life in jail for crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
A former senior military officer in both the former army (Ex-FAR) and the National Police, Habyarabatuma was also stripped of all his ranks.
The tribunal found Habyarabatuma guilty of complicity in the killing of hundreds of Tutsi who had sought refuge at Cyahinda parish in April 1994.
During the trial, court heard that in April 1994, Tutsi refugees at Cyahinda church were attacked by Gendarmes (equivalent to police). The refugees put up stiff resistance, killing two of the attackers in the process.
Prosecution alleged that on April 18, Habyarabatuma, who was the commander of the Gendarmerie in the former Butare Prefecture, sent heavily armed gendarmes to Cyahinda to retrieve the bodies of their dead colleagues.
The group that was led by 2nd Lieutenant Majoro, went on a killing spree, taking the lives of hundreds of Tutsi refugees at the parish.
In convicting Habyarabatuma of the crime of complicity in the killings at Cyahinda parish, the court president, Lt. Col Chance Ndagano said that Majoro was never punished for these killings by his superior.
“Habyarabatuma instead rewarded Majoro by handing him the command of the Gendarmerie when he left for Kigali,” ruled Ndagano.
Habyarabatuma, who was absent during the ruling, was however acquitted of other counts which include; arrest and torture of RPF-Inkontanyi ‘collaborators’ before 1994, training of Burundian refugees to commit genocide and monitoring road blocks in various parts of Butare town.
Habyarabatuma was also acquitted of the charge of involvement in killings at the National University of Rwanda, Tumba, Ngoma, Kabakobwa and many parts of Butare.
“Prosecution could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed these crimes. They could not prove that Habyarabatuma was in Butare when some of the crimes were committed,” pronounced Ndagano.
During the trial that started in November 2009, Habyarabatuma maintained that he had left Butare by the time the killings started on April 21.