Government of Rwanda announced that it would officially hold an official closing ceremony for the semi-traditional courts known as Gacaca on May 4, 2012 according to information received by Hirondelle News Agency.
The new date was declared following a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame, indicated a government statement made available to Hirondelle on Thursday. The closure of Gacaca courts was first announced in 2007 but has been postponed several times due to what officials call complexity of certain cases and the discovery of new facts.
Gacaca trials began in 2005 in 106 pilot jurisdictions and were then extended to the rest of the country. They have now judged some 1.5 million people, according to the Rwandan government.
Gacaca courts have the competence to try all genocide suspects except top planners at national and prefectural levels. They can impose sentences of up to life imprisonment which is now the maximum sentence in Rwanda.
Gacaca judges are volunteers and are not professional lawyers but rather people elected by their communities on the basis of integrity. Some have, however, themselves been accused of genocide, subsequently tried and convicted or acquitted.
article published: 23. December 2011
Source: allAfrica.com, Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne)