The Prosecution today requested that former Bourgmestre of Gikoro Paul Bisengimana be sentenced to a prison term of not less than 14 years. This request was made during the oral submissions by the parties before Trial Chamber II composed of Judges Arlete Ramaroson, presiding, William Sekule and Solomy Balungi Bossa.
Senior Trial Attorney, C.A. Adeogun-Phillips invited the Trial Chamber to take into consideration the aggravating and mitigating factors in sentencing the accused who, on 3 December 2005, pleaded guilty to having aided and abetted extermination and murder as crimes against humanity.
The Prosecution submitted that the gravity and heinous nature of murder and extermination as crimes against humanity and their absolute prohibition makes their commission inherently aggravating. It added that Bisengimana abused the trust that was placed in him. The accused, it argued, failed in his duty to protect, prevent or punish the illegal acts of perpetrators of the massacres. Specifically the accused failed to protect hundreds of vulnerable Tutsi refugees who sought refuge at both the Musha Church, Rutoma secteur and at the Ruhanga Protestant Church and School in Gicaca secteur.
The mitigating factors, the Prosecution argued, included the plea of guilty by the accused which would assist in the administration of justice as well as in the national reconciliation in Rwanda. It would also save the victims who survived from the ordeal of giving testimony before the Tribunal. The Prosecution added that Bisengimana had shown some degree of remorse and acknowledged full responsibility for his actions or omissions. It stated that the accused further expressed his profound and heartfelt apologies to all those who directly or indirectly, fell victim to the said offences.
Counsel for the Defence, Catherine Mabille, from France, underscored the mitigating factors as submitted by the Prosecution. She also prayed the Chamber to sentence the accused to between 12 and 14 years in prison. She further invited the Chamber to take note that the accused was sick with a liver problem, had ten children and that he was a man of good character as presented by three defence witnesses. She requested that the accused be sentenced to a prison term of not more than 12 years.
Speaking in his own defence, Bisengimana asked for pardon from the victims and the people of Rwanda and expressed remorse for his failure to save the many lives which perished in Gikoro commune. The accused will be sentenced on a date to be announced.