Both prosecution and defence in the trial of Désiré Munyaneza in Canada closed their arguments Thursday last week and it is now up to Justice Andre Denis of the Quebec Superior Court to make his ruling, The New Times has learnt.
The 41-year-old man is charged with Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for his alleged role in the massacres and rapes in the former Butare Prefecture during the 1994 genocide against Tutsis.
Though the Canadian judge did not reveal when people should expect his decision and has huge files of notes to read, the Court will reconvene on January 22 next year and it is estimated that the verdict will be passed during the same year.
“Superior Court Justice Andre Denis has 1,000 pages of arguments, 16,000 pages of transcripts, plus another 30,000 pages of jurisprudence to wade through, as well as his own notes, before coming to a verdict sometime next year,” reported the Montreal Gazette, a local daily newspaper.
Munyaneza is the first person to be tried under Canada’s War Crimes Act enacted in 2000 and permits the country to try suspects of crimes committed in other territories.
He was denied refugee status by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board over suspicion of participation in crimes against humanity and he has been detained since 2005 after the Canadian police arrested him in Toronto, following a six-year investigation.
Both agents of the Canadian prosecution and Munyaneza’s lawyers had to travel to different countries to collect evidence. The case heard witnesses from Rwanda, France, Tanzania and Kenya with many of them testifying behind closed doors because of the fear of reprisals.
One of the women who testified against Munyaneza in Montreal last year said that the accused raped her five times when she had sought refuge at his father’s home in Butare town.
“He threw himself on me and held my hands behind me…then he started penetrating me, I was feeling very bad,” a witness only identified as C21 told the court in May last year.
But Munyaneza’s lawyers have continued to question the credibility of witnesses as they defended their client.
A former businessman, Munyaneza is accused of committing widespread rape, murder, and pillaging during the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in which more than a million people lost their lives.
His trial began in Montreal in March 2007 and has so far cost an estimated $1.6 million from coffers of the Canadian government. If convicted, Munyaneza risks spending the rest of his life in a Canadian jail.