GATSIBO-Survivors from the former Murambi Commune, currently Gatsibo District, in Eastern Province, have welcomed the life sentence handed, Tuesday, to Jean Baptiste Gatete by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), for Genocide.
Gatete, who during the Genocide was a Director in the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs, is infamous in the former Murambi Commune, where he served as Bourgmestre (Mayor) prior to the Genocide.
He was responsible for the massacres of thousands of Tutsis in three parishes of Rwankuba, Kiziguro and Mukarange.
Speaking to The New Times Yesterday, scores of survivors from Murambi and neighboring areas, where Gatete orchestrated the crimes, said they received the news with relief.
“We are pleased very much with the court’s verdict. Justice has, at last, prevailed. He committed a lot of horrible crimes against humanity that are still fresh in our memories,” Claudine Nyirandegeya, one of the survivors of Kiziguro Parish massacres said.
According to Nyirandegeya, Gatete ordered Interahamwe militia to kill Tutsis who had sought refuge at the parish.
“He worked closely with Nkundabazungu who was a ruthless killer. He had many soldiers who killed numerous Tutsis under his command. He deserved a life sentence because he will recall his acts and repent from prison,” she said.
Antoine Ngabonziza, another survivor from Kiramuruzi sector said the sentence was long over due.
“I remember one time in 1994 when Gatete boasted that his mission was to become a role model in killing all Tutsi in his commune. With all this psychological torture, I always wished him a life sentence. I am happy that my dream has come true,” Ngabonziza said.
In Kiramuruzi sector, Gatete’s main base, Bishop Kihangire, the Eector Executive Secretary, told The New Times that the local community could not wait to hear the news.
“They welcomed the sentencing. Residents had complained many times, during Gacaca, trials astowhy Gatete was not sentenced, but now they have seen justice prevail,” he said.
He, however, added that despite the scars and loss of relatives, survivors have reconciled with their former tormentors.
“Irrespective of what happened to them, survivors in the sector have done a lot to reconcile with their former killers. Some have even intermarried,” Kihangire said.