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Convicted Ex-minister dismisses witnesses presented

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Kigali: A Former Minister in the interim government accused to have executed the Genocide in 1994 was sentenced to life in prison on Genocide and crimes against humanity, but her lawyers doubt the credibility of some the witnesses and intend to appeal against the verdict rendered Monday evening in Kigali, RNA reports.

In a five-hour long verdict, Judge Jocelyne Ninahazwa found guilty Ms. Agnes Ntamabyariro – the former Minister of Justice in the government that took over after the death of President Habyarimana on April 06.   

After the verdict, she raised her hand and said she would like to say “two things”. Ms. Ntamabyariro asked that court avails her with a copy of voluminous verdict, and also said she was going to immediately appeal against the life sentence.

"We immediately announced our decision to appeal, we are waiting to get a copy of the judgment," her lawyer Gatera Gashabana said.

Ms Gashabana said Monday's sentence was based on unsound witness statements. 

The ex-minister’s trail, whose trial started in 2006, previously pleaded not guilty to all charges.  

Ms. Ntamabyariro was accused of holding meetings to plan and organize genocide in Nyanza and Kibuye, in her native prefecture. She allegedly also participated in campaigns to distribute weapons. Court also accused her of drawing up lists of Tutsis to be killed.

Available information shows that Ms. Ntamabyariro was Secretary General of the break away faction of the Liberal Party (PL), which became to be know as "PL Power" because of its extremist leanings. Its President Justin Mugenzi is already awaiting end of his trail at the UN court in Tanzania.

A witness from the rival PL group told court during Ms. Ntamabyariro’s trail that she had helped plan the murder of 66 members of the same family during the massacres.

But her lawyer said that most of the witnesses to which judge Joselyne Ninahazwa referred "came from another faction of the PL, who were in fact adversaries" of Ms Ntamabyariro.

In November, prosecutor Emmanuel Nsengiyumva requested life imprisonment in isolation against former minister and her co-defendant, former prosecutor Jean-Leonard Hategekimana.  

Arrested in Zambia in 1997, Mrs. Ntamabyariro is the only member of the interim government to be tried in Rwanda. Her trial began on 19 June, 2006.


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