8 February 2018

Rwanda: Genocide Suspect Seyoboka Claims 'Mistaken Identity'

Photo: Elisee Mpirwa/New Times
2nd Lt. Henry Jean-Claude Seyoboka in court with his new lawyer Théophile Kazineza.

On Wednesday, the military tribunal in Nyamirambo started hearing defence submissions by Genocide suspect, Second Lieutenant Henry Jean-Claude Seyoboka, who claims prosecution witnesses confused him with another retired soldier, a one Lt. Claude.

The hearing begun with the judge explaining that the reasons previous hearings were postponed at the behest of the defendant, who sought to replace his defence counsel.

When he got one, the new lawyer had to be given more time to internalise the case to ably defend his client.

His last hearing was in early last year.

Seyoboka appeared with Théophile Kazineza, who replaced Albert Nkundabatware.

The presiding judge, Lt Col Déo Rusizana, asked the defendant to present his defence on counts that prosecution had submitted to court.

Prosecution pin him on three crimes of committing genocide, conspiracy in genocide crimes, murder as a crime against humanity and rape; charges he denies.

During his defence submissions, he mainly focused on what prosecution witnesses said, arguing that they alluded to the wrong person during their testimonies.

A former member of the ex-FAR, Seyoboka spent most of the time explaining how he joined the army in 1991 from the University of Rwanda in the former Butare prefecture.

He claims he only joined after being recruited along with others, contrary to what prosecution says that he joined with an express aim of exterminating the Tutsi population.

According to prosecution, Seyoboka was key in the killings around the City of Kigali, mainly killing Tutsi who had sought refuge at the former African Languages School in Kigali (CELA), at Saint Paul, and at Saint Famille.

During the hearing, he requested the court that they should allow him summon defence witnesses in Rwanda and the United States to corroborate his account.

Later in the afternoon, his lawyer, Kazineza, was asked by the court to supplement what his client had presented, but he said that he will only comment after defence witness submissions.

Judge Rusizana then adjourned the hearing to this Thursday.

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