The Prosecution in the case of a well known singer and composer of popular music, Simon Bikindi, on Monday 26 May 2008, prayed for his conviction and life in prison. The request was made by Prosecuting Attorney William Egbe during his closing arguments before Trial Chamber III composed of Judges Inés Mónica Weinberg de Roca, presiding, Florence Rita Arrey and Robert Fremr.
The Prosecution argued that it had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty on all the six counts charging him with conspiracy to commit genocide; genocide; or alternatively complicity in genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; murder as a crime against humanity; and persecution as a crime against humanity.
It stated that Bikindi who was also an official in Ministry of Youth and Sports and a member of the Mouvement Républicain National pour le Développment et la Démocratie (MRND) political party in Gisenyi prefecture should be convicted as a result of his personal participation in planning, instigation, acts of genocide and murder of Tutsi civilians.
“It is important to state publicly at this point, for the benefit of the international community that this case is not the trial of a singer for his musical productions. Artistic liberty, freedom of thought, expression and speech are not on trial in this case”, the Prosecution pointed out.
The Prosecution added that it had provided evidence that three songs that the accused sang in public and the speeches he made at public rallies promoted hatred and violence which resulted with death and destruction of Tutsis.
The Defence requested for Bikindi’s acquittal arguing that there were several contradictions in testimonies for the prosecution. Defence Counsel Andrea O’Shea from United Kingdom stated that the songs by the accused were only about peace and democracy adding that his client was a good person who helped many Tutsi survive the 1994 Genocide in Gisenyi. The accused, Bikindi addressing the court, maintained his innocence and prayed for his acquittal.
The trial took 61 days during which the Prosecution presented 20 witnesses and the Defence 37 witnesses. The accused was arrested in the Netherlands on 12 July 2001 and transferred to the Tribunal’s detention facility (UNDF) on 27 March 2002.