16 November 2012

Rwanda: Huye Murder Trial Kicks Off

Nyanz — A judge at the itinerant chamber of the High Court in Nyanza has set December 14 for the ruling in the case against the Executive Secretary of Kigoma Sector, Huye District, Festus Habyarimana and four conspirators who were charged with murder.

Besides Habyarimana, the others are Police constables Fabiola Uwiragiye and Frank Rugamba as well as Steven Karemera a.k.a Maridadi, a reservist.

A fifth suspect, also a reservist, David Ngezahayo, was absent in the court when the hearing opened on Thursday. He is said to be out on bail.

They are facing the charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and violation of a person's domicile.

At the opening of the trial on Thursday, prosecution represented by Deo Lambert Mugabo, told court that on the night of July 2 this year, the suspects "invaded" the house of one Laurent Sebera, a resident of Nsekera village, and shot him dead together with his nephew, Innocent Mutuyimana.

"Sebera had committed no crime and there is no indication that he posed any security threat," the prosecutor said.

According to Mugabo, the local leader had a history of misunderstanding with the victim, which, prosecution alleges, could have resulted into the murder.

"While the mission of the Executive Secretary and his team was supposed to be the supervision of the night community policing patrol, they diverted it and went to disturb the safety of the victims," Mugabo told a fully-packed court.

The prosecutor questioned the reasons why the leader took with him, "in his car", two armed policemen and two reservists and "instead of supervising the night patrol went to Sebera's home".

However, the suspects denied the accusations that the murder of the duo was in any way premeditated.

"We had no intention to kill. It just happened accidentally," Habyarimana, told court.

"When we reached Sebera's house, we heard many people inside murmuring. So, we sought to know what was happening. But rather the victims came out armed and attacked us..."

He also denied having any conflict with one of the victims, stating that: "We were friends".

Police constable Uwiragiye, who acknowledged to have fired the three bullets which killed the two victims, said he was compelled to shoot "when the two hacked him several times with the machetes they brandished".

"I acted solely in self-defence", he said. "I was going to be killed and I had no other option," he said.

Following the pleadings by both parties, the prosecution prayed the court to pass the maximum sentence-life imprisonment-against all the accused.

Meanwhile, the wives of the deceased have requested the court to award them about Rwf3 billion in reparations for the death of their spouses.

Donatha Mukambanda, Sebera's wife, requested for Rwf500 million to be paid by each of the five suspects while Eugenie Nkuriyehe, another plaintiff, requested for Rwf 300 million to be paid by all the accused.

The judge Dolousi Kamanzi set December 14 for the ruling in the case.

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