HUYE- The Huye Intermediate Court, Thursday, has acquitted Dr Runyinya Barabwiliza, the former foreign affairs advisor to former President, Juvenal Habyarimana, of Genocide charges.
Runyinya had been charged with three counts, including masterminding the Genocide, forming a criminal gang as well as giving orders and distributing arms to Interahamwe militia.
“The court finds that the prosecution failed to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, the charges against Dr Runyinya and thus, acquits him,” Judge Francine Murekatete read the ruling before a packed courtroom.
“The court finds Runyinya Barabwiliza not guilty of any charges and orders for his immediate release.”
The reading of the judgment lasted about five hours.
During the trial, prosecution had argued that between 1993 and 1994, Runyinya organised various meetings in Huye to mobilise Interahamwe to exterminate Tutsis.
It also alleged that Runyinya created a group of intellectuals, the ‘Groupe de Reflexion’, which allegedly planned the Genocide and that through confidential letters to President Habyarimana, the accused advised him to exterminate Tutsis.
Upon acquittal, Runyinya went out of the courtroom with a smile. However, efforts to talk to him were futile as he was rushed out of the court premises by a security guard who drove him back to the Butare prison.
There was excitement outside the courtroom from the accused families and friends when the Judge pronounced the ruling. One of his family members told The New Times that ‘justice had prevailed and we are expecting him to be set free tonight (Thursday)”.
However, the prosecution represented by lawyer, John Bugirande Museruka, contested the verdict and indicated it would appeal.
Who is Dr Runyinya Barabwiliza?
Dr Runyinya Barabwiliza was the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at the National University of Rwanda, lecturer, researcher, international consultant and politician.
Born in 1947 at Rwamiko in the former Gikongoro Prefecture, Dr Runyinya holds a PhD in land management from the University of Gembloux, Belgium.
He returned to Rwanda in 1985 and served as a lecturer at the faculty of agriculture at the Butare based University and was later appointed dean of the faculty.
As a politician, he served as the chairman of the then ruling party, MRND, in the former Butare Prefecture between 1993 and 1994
Between 1992 and April 1994, he served as a foreign affairs advisor to former President Juvenal Habyarimana and closely followed the peace negotiations between the then government and RPF-Inkotanyi in Arusha, Tanzania.
During the April-July 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, Dr Runyinya was in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, but prosecutors said what happened was a consequence of his planning.
His trial started in April this year.