The government has welcomed yesterday’s decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to sentence former military officer, Lt Ildephonse Hategekimana to life imprisonment after he was convicted of genocide charges.
Hategekimana who was the head of Ngoma Military Camp in Butare, Southern Province in 1994 was sentenced to life by Madagascan Judge, Alertte Ramaroson, after finding him guilty of crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
''Considering the relevant circumstances in the judgment, the Chamber sentences the accused to a single sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of his life, ''
''The Chamber finds, beyond reasonable doubts that Hategekimana ordered the genocide of Tutsi refugees who had sought refuge at the Ngoma church,'' ruled the Judge.
Hategekimana who was born in Mugina, Gitarama Province was one of the five accused that the ICTR prosecutor, Hassan Boubacar Jallow, sought in vain to transfer to Rwanda to face trial.
In an interview with The New Times, the Spokesperson of the National Public Prosecution Authority Augustin Nkusi said that the decision was “timely and welcome”, adding that a life sentence is the only available option but the crimes committed by Hategekimana were more devastating than the sentence he received.
“The decision of the tribunal is welcome but one thing to be noted that the crimes these people committed are heavier than the sentences they receive but it is the only available option,” Nkusi said
The ICTR Prosecution Attorney, William Egbe welcomed the verdict, describing it as “a victory of the international justice.”
The prosecution concluded its case on May 4, 2009 after presenting 20 witnesses and the defence rested its case on October 7, same year, after fielding the same number of witnesses.
This trial started on March 16, 2009.
Speaking to The New Times, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean de Dieu Mucyo said that the verdict was long overdue.
“We are happy with the decision but we urge the tribunal to prosecute many of the people who were involved in the killings with Hategekimana who have not yet received sentences,”
“If the ICTR concludes its mandate before all the remaining cases are completed, it would be better if the cases are transferred to Rwanda to ensure that all the suspects have their day in court,” Mucyo said.