Mukezamfura Alfred

NYARUGENGE – The former Speaker of Parliament, Alfred Mukezamfura, has been sentenced to life imprisonment with special provisions, for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Mukezamfura, who was the parliamentary speaker for five years since 2003, was sentenced in absentia by the Gacaca Court of Nyakabanda sector, Nyarugenge district.

He was convicted for inciting Hutus to kill Tutsis through several articles published in Imvaho newspaper, a Kinyarwanda state-run weekly, in the run up to the 1994 Genocide which claimed over one million lives.

His two articles in the weekly’s special edition include ‘Intwari yaratabarutse,’ loosely translated to mean the “the hero passed away” in reference to former President Juvenal Habyarimana who had died in a plane crash on April 6.

The other article is Kigali; Ni nde uzaribara? (Who will tell the story of Kigali?). Court said both articles by the former editor incited violence.

The court heard that in the articles, Mukezamfura called upon the population to mount roadblocks armed with traditional and modern weapons and to ensure that no ‘enemy’ passes through.

Following Habyarimana’s death, Interahamwe and extremist soldiers erected roadblocks on major roads, as militias armed with machetes hunted down Tutsis.

A former scribe and educationalist, Mukezamfura was also convicted of having been party to mass distribution of guns used in the mass killings in the former Kibuye prefecture now Karongi District in the Western Province.

The former speaker was also convicted of taking part in the murder of journalists who opposed the regime’s plans of eliminating Tutsi. On that account Mukezamfura was convicted for the murder of Viateur Karinda, a journalist who worked for Radio Rwanda.

Before the ruling, the court heard testimonies of the former Biryogo sector leader, Amri Karekezi and Valerie Bemeriki who worked for the infamous Radio Television Libre de Mille Collines (RTLM).

Both are currently serving a life sentence for their lead role in the Genocide.

Karekezi testified that he was in the meetings with Mukezamfura organizing the Genocide.

“He frequently attended the meetings not as a journalist but as a participant who was active,” said Karekezi.

Karekezi further told court that after Mukezamfura’s publication, an order was issued that his article be circulated to senior Genocide organisers for execution.

On her part, Bemeriki said that during the Genocide, she went to Gitarama together with Mukezamfura, Jean Baptiste Bamwanga and Callixte Kalimanzira to encourage the masses to participate in the genocide.

“We told people that they have to fight and protect the 1959 revolution, we were accompanied by Interahamwe who immediately started killing to prove to us that they had got the message loud and clear,” Bemeriki said.

This was the third time Mukezamfura’s case was tried in absentia; he is alleged to have left the country for treatment, but according to the Executive Secretary of Gacaca Jurisdiction, Domitilla Mukantaganzwa, the court was not given any proof to the effect.

“We once received a letter from his wife informing us that he was out of the country on treatment. We advised her to produce medical proof but we didn’t get a feedback, so the court had to proceed with its work,” said Mukantaganzwa.

However several reports point out that Mukezamfura left the country for Belgium last March where he has since sought asylum.

Source: The New Times