The Prosecutor and the Defence in Siméon Nchamihigo’s case today presented their closing arguments. The Prosecutor called on Trial Chamber III to sentence the accused to life imprisonment while the Defence prayed for an acquittal of the accused. The date for the judgement will be announced later.
The Prosecution argued that evidence against Nchamihigo, a former Deputy Prosecutor of the Cyangugu prefecture, has proved that he was responsible for planning, instigating, ordering, committing, and aiding and abetting the killings of Tutsis in his prefecture. It said evidence showed that the accused was responsible for recruiting, organising and training of youth militias to commit the massacres in the prefecture.
It further argued that Nchamihigo, as a senior civil servant, had the option not to take part in the crimes, like the many other senior judicial officials in Rwanda had done, but “he deliberately decided to pursue the path of crimes.”
The Defence, on its part, prayed for the acquittal of the accused, arguing that the Prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the case against the accused. It added that Nchamihigo was a man of good character and a good father. Speaking on his own behalf the accused maintained his innocence and asked the court to find him not guilty adding that he however regretted the tragedy which befell Rwanda in 1994. Nchamihigo further said that he believed he would have been acquitted had he been co-charged with others in the Cyangugu trial – Immanuel Bagambiki and André Ntagerura - who were found not guilty by the ICTR.
Nchamihigo, who was also Secretary for the Coalition pour la Défense de la République (CDR) in Cyangugu was arrested in Arusha, Tanzania on 19 May 2001 and transferred to the Tribunal’s Detention Facility on 25 May 2001. He was charged with four counts of genocide, murder, extermination and other inhumane acts as crimes against humanity. His trial began on 25 September 2006 and ended on 21 September 2007 after 58 trial days during which the Prosecution called 24 witnesses and the Defence 36.
The Prosecution was led by Alphonse Van and assisted by Adama Niane, Lloyd Strickland and Madeleine Schwarz while Counsel for Defence was Mr. Denis Turcotte assisted by Benoît Henry, both from Canada. The case was heard before Judges Dennis Byron, presiding, Gberdao Gustave Kam and Robert Fremr.