The Prosecution and the Defence today completed the presentation of their closing arguments in the case of Laurent Semanza, former Bourgmestre of Bicumbi commune in Kigali Rural Prefecture who is charged with 14 counts of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, rape, persecution and torture) and violations of the Geneva Conventions.
The session began on Monday 17 June 2002 with the Prosecution Counsel Chile Eboe-Osuji (Nigeria/Canada) appealing to the Trial Chamber III to find the accused guilty on all the 14 counts and to convict him accordingly by imposing a sentence for each count. This, he said was because the accused did not only commit the act of genocide but the evidence was clear as to the fact that he intended to do so.
Prosecution explained that it had been able to prove that Semanza was truly an “angel of death” who rampaged through Bicumbi and Gikoro communes. It added that it had presented proof of the killings and maiming that the accused sponsored and orchestrated at Ruhanga and Musha churches and at Mabare mosque in Muyumbu sector and at Mwulire hill to mention but a few places.
Arguing for the Defence on 18 June 2002, Counsel Charles Taku (Cameroon) assisted by Sadikou Alao (Benin), submitted that the Prosecutor had not proved her case against the accused and that the indictment was bad and must not be allowed to stand.
The Defence appealed to the Trial Chamber to acquit the accused since he did not commit the crimes as “it was impossible for him to be physically present at the various sites of the offences described in the indictment.” It further argued that the Defence had presented many alibis which made the admissibility of the Prosecution evidence doubtful. The Defence also challenged the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to entertain the case.
The Trial Chamber III composed of Judges Yakov Ostrovsky (Russia), presiding, Lloyd George Williams (St. Kitts and Nevis) and Pavel Dolenc (Slovenia) will deliver judgement at a date to be set later.
Semanza was arrested on 27 March 1996 in Cameroon and transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha on 19 November 1997. The trial started on 16 October 2000 and closed 25 April 2002 during which the parties called a total of 53 witnesses.