AFP, 21 April 2009
ARUSHA, Tanzania (AFP) — Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) called on the court to impose a life sentence on the first woman ever charged with genocide by a world court.
They also requested the maximum sentence for Pauline Nyiramasuhuko’s son — the Tanzania-based court’s youngest detainee — and four other co-accused.
Nyiramasuhuko, a former minister for the family and women’s empowerment, has been charged with genocide and incitement to rape committed in Rwanda’s southern Butare region during the 1994 genocide.
Her son Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, 39, former Butare prefects Alphonse Nteziryayo and Sylvain Nsabimana as well as former mayors Joseph Kanyabashi and Elie Ndayambaje were charged on several genocide counts.
“The prosecutor respectfully submits that the appropriate sentence in this case is imprisonment for the remainder of their lives,” prosecutor Holo Makwaia said in her closing arguments.
Makwaia argued that the accused had “the intent to destroy in whole or in part the Tutsi ethnic group in Butare.”
But Nyiramasuhuko’s defence lawyer, Nicole Bergevin, said the prosecution had failed to prove that her client was guilty. The defence will begin its presentations Wednesday.
Nyiramasuhuko’s case, which began in June 2001, is the ICTR’s longest-running trial.
The UN-backed ICTR was formed in late 1994 and is tasked with trying the masterminds of Rwanda’s genocide in which some 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed in the space of 100 days.