KIGALI - With the closing date of the National Gacaca Courts Service (SNJG) so close, many Genocide survivors are bitter, accusing some judges of lacking impartiality. Gacaca Courts will close by June this year.
On May 16, survivors of Samuduha, Kanombe in Kicukiro District petitioned the area Gacaca president to nullify the ruling against one Joseph Habimana.
Habimana was on that date sentenced and convicted to fifteen years imprisonment by Kanombe Gacaca Court for his alleged role in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. He claims that he is being blackmailed by a group of genocide suspects he testified against in the past.
The survivors support his stance and have signed a petition demanding that the ruling be overturned and an independent court appointed to retry Habimana.
“There is foul play and we want the truth to be told,” one area genocide survivor who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
“We are being intimidated because Gacaca judges here don’t want to hear the truth. We are ready to tell the world.” The survivors, however, didn’t state why the judges in the area are not acting independently.
“They are not following the rules. They are being influenced and I know investigations will prove us right,” said another survivor who was not comfortable with this newspaper mentioning her name.
“I want my case to be heard again. It was handled unfairly,” Habimana said in a letter he addressed to Gacaca president of Kanombe.
Habimana’s letter, dated May 17 is also copied to the Executive Secretary of the National Gacaca Courts, Domitille Mukantagazwa. Mukantagazwa could not be reached for comment by press time.
Last evening, The New Times learnt that Nyarugenge and Kicukiro Gacaca leaders held a meeting with the complaining survivors but full details of the meeting were not readily available by press time. A source who attended the meeting said if Habimana lodged an appeal then a different Gacaca Court will hear his case.
“The fact that we are here to listen to the survivors confirms that the way Habimana’s case was handled was lacking,” another source said.