Rwanda: Kagame dismisses district leaders over genocide-related deaths

NAIROBI, 14 May (IRIN) - Rwandan President Paul Kagame has dissolved a district executive committee in the southwestern province of Gikongoro where several killings of genocide survivors has occurred, the Rwandan News Agency reported on Thursday.
Kagame's action followed his two-day visit to Gikongoro that ended on Tuesday, the agency reported. Cabinet approved his decision on Wednesday, at a meeting during which replacements for the dismissed officials were named.

Killings of genocide survivors in Kaduha District occurred in 2003. Four genocide survivors were reportedly killed in Gikongoro in late 2003 by a group of genocide suspects in order to prevent them from testifying in the Gacaca justice system, introduced in the country in 2001. Similar killings were also reported in the central province of Gitarama.

In early March, nine people were sentenced to death and another one to life imprisonment over the killing of a genocide survivor who was due to testify under the Gacaca justice system.

The Court of First Instance ruled then that the nine were guilty of jointly killing Emile Ntahimana in November 2003 in Gikongoro.

The March convictions brought to 14 the number of people sentenced to death and three to life imprisonment for killing genocide survivors. In February, the court had sentenced five people to death and two to life imprisonment for killing Charles Rutinduka, another potential witness in the Gacaca trials.

Gacaca, based on a traditional communal justice where elders at the village level judge offenders, was introduced to speed up trials for an estimated 85,000 suspects held in Rwanda's prisons, in connection with the genocide that claimed the lives of at least 800,000 people.


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