9 January 2013

Rwanda: Man Pleads Guilty to Defilement

A MAN who defiled a 17-year-old girl has prayed for leniency, asking the Supreme Court to reduce his sentence to five years.

Herbert Namara committed the crime in 2007. He was arrested shortly after and, following a successful prosecution, handed a 20-year jail term by the High Court. The father of four is appealing the verdict.

Appearing before a panel of judges, led by Deputy Chief Justice Zainab Kayitesi on Monday, Namara pleaded guilty to the crime and testified before the court.

"I had dated 'the girl' for three months and every time I wanted to have intercourse with her, she told me to wait. Actually, I thought she was just being shy, so one day I went to where she lives - I was a friend of her parents. I entered the room and closed the door," said Namara said.

He added that he tried convincing the victim into intercourse, but she refused.

"I thought using some little force would work, so I tore her knickers, a penetration happened but I realised she wasn't okay with it so I stopped," Namara said.

"I'm guilty. I am ashamed of what I did, my family is now torn apart. Of my four children, only one attends school now, and I am suffering from acute asthma. I feel I deserve five years in jail, but if the court decides to give me a harsher sentence I would like to serve the extra years on parole," he pleaded.

Lawyers argue plea

Namara's lawyer also had further pleas. He told the court that if it considered all the concerns his client raised, the convict deserves a minimum one year, not five.

Prosecutor Beatrice Ntawangundi, however, argued that Namara has been tactical in the previous court appearances.

"During the course of investigations, it was discovered that Namara tried to bribe the victim not to report the case after the rape," the prosecutor said, adding that the sentence already handed to the suspect was lenient considering that the crime he committed attracts a maximum life sentence.

The Supreme Court will pronounce its judgement on February 8.

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