A Military High Court sitting in Mukamira Sector, Nyabihu District, has sentenced a soldier of the Rwanda Defence Forces to life imprisonment for killing six people and injuring 13.
Cpl. Venant Gahamanyi committed the crime on October 8, after a quarrel in a local bar, over payment of beer bills.
Court also stripped Gahamanyi of his military rank, as Prosecution led by Lt Faustian Nzakamwita, had requested.
Delivering the verdict yesterday in a court fully packed with soldiers and civilians, Judge Maj. Bernard Ndayisaba said,
“After some deliberations, the court has found the accused guilty of the crimes of planned murder and attempt to murder.”
“Therefore Cpl Gahamanyi is hereby sentenced to life in prison for the above mentioned crimes, and stripped of all military ranks.”
Gahamanyi, who appeared in a sombre mood, was given 30 days to appeal if he felt dissatisfied with the verdict.His lawyer, Janvier Ndaruhutse, said he would appeal.
Earlier during the trial on Tuesday, Gahamanyi together with his advocate, Ndaruhutse, argued that he was provoked into shooting after being humiliated and roughed up by a gang who included the bar owner.
His defence was corroborated by residents, who claimed that four men and the bar’s owner had ganged up against Gahamanyi, undressed him, forcing him to retreat and pick the firearm.
“I saw a woman called Specioze Nyirasoni, the owner of the bar, holding this soldier by the neck and pulling his private parts. They wanted to kill him but he managed to sneak out, went and brought the gun and ended up with the whole mess,” said one Kabuguma, briefly interrupting the hearing.
But court dismissed this defence.
However, this case did not pass without incident as residents maintained that the soldier was a good man who was provoked into shooting.
Angry residents dissatisfied with the ruling, blocked the road and stormed the house of Nyirasoni, the bar owner, threatening to lynch her.
It took the intervention of police which shot in the air to disperse the crowd. Nyirasoni was later whisked to the district for safe custody.
“We had deployed armed soldiers with the police at her house, but she still fears for her life since the whole community has turned against her,” a security official said.