January 18, 2018

Gacaca decision

Earlier this month I attended an all-day Gacaca court appeal by former sous Préfet Béatrice Nirere against her conviction on genocide charges leading to a sentence of life imprisonment with “special conditions” (isolation).  As I commented, during the first day of the appeal the case against her consisted primarily of hearsay evidence, if that. With a paucity of witnesses admitting to knowing anything about her, the Gacaca judges decided to postpone their decision, and I promised to let you know what eventuated.

The following week, another all-day session was held, and once again the expectant crowd who had gathered were disappointed when the Judges decided to delay their decision for a second time. I spoke to Valence later that day, who reported that Nirere’s son was still feeling hopeful her conviction would be overturned – or at least that her sentence would be reduced. Finally however it seems that some witnesses did come to testify with something other than hearsay evidence against her. I just got an email from Valence saying that her appeal has been denied and her original sentence confirmed. I wish I had been there to assess for myself the subsequent testimonies . . .

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