The Prosecution and the Defence in the trial of Vincent Rutaganira, former Councillor in Mubuga, Kibuye prefecture, today presented their closing arguments. The Prosecution called for the Trial Chamber III to sentence the accused to between six and eight years in prison while the Defence prayed for a lenient sentence of not more than six years. On 7 December 2004 the Trial Chamber directed the Registrar to set the date of 17 January 2005 for the sentencing.
Rutaganira had pleaded guilty to a charge of extermination as a crime against humanity as contained in the plea agreement between the Prosecutor and the accused. The Prosecutor also requested for the dismissal of all other charges. In a 6 May 1996 amended indictment, the accused was charged with seven counts including genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, murder, extermination and other inhuman acts, serious violations of the Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and serious violations of Additional Protocol II.
The Trial Chamber III composed of Presiding Judge Andresia Vaz ( Senegal ), Judge Flavia Lattanzi ( Italy ) and Judge Florence Rita Arrey ( Cameroon ), will sentence the accused at the end of February or early March 2005.
In its closing arguments, the Prosecution argued that the sentence requested was commensurate with the crime the accused had pleaded guilty to and requested that Mr. Rutaganira be allowed to serve his sentence in Europe or in Swaziland.
During the hearing of today, Counsel for Defence Mr. Françoise Roux from France presented three morality witnesses including Rutaganira’s wife, Immaculée Nyiramasimbi, presently a Deputy Mayor of Gishyita Commune in Rwanda , who extolled her husband’s role in saving several Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. She said as far as the family was concerned there was no segregating between Tutsis and Hutus. The two other witnesses included a lady who told the court that she was among the Tutsis who were saved by the accused. The accused himself expressed remorse for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and for his role in it.
In his closing, Mr. Roux prayed the Trial Chamber to take into account the poor health conditions of the accused.