Canadian court acquits refugee of genocide in 1994 Rwandan slaughters

OTTAWA – A man who came to Canada in 2001 as a refugee from the terrible Rwandan slaughters of 1994 has been acquitted on charges that he participated in the very genocide he fled.

Former school teacher Jacques Mungwarere was found not guilty Friday in Canada’s second trial under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

He was acquitted on one count of genocide by murder, and on one count of crimes against humanity by murder, after a 26-week trial by judge alone.

He claimed the accusations against him were fabricated. His lawyer said Mungwarere was fingered as a potential murderer three weeks after he agreed to testify for the defence at the trial of another Rwandan in the United States.

Judge Michel Charbonneau of the Ontario Superior Court ruled that the defence raised a reasonable doubt.

Mungwarere had been in custody since he was arrested in 2009 in Windsor, Ont., following an RCMP investigation that began in 2003.

He was accused of participating in a massacre of Tutsis in the region of Kibuye.

Thousands of people had sought refuge in a local hospital, believing they might find sanctuary, but local militias encircled the compound and began shooting the people inside. Mungwarere was accused of shooting some of them himself.

His trial opened May 28, 2012, and ran to March 21 this year. It heard testimony from 44 witnesses, including Mungwarere.

Most of the Rwandan witnesses testified by video link from Kigali, Rwanda.

The only other prosecution under the war crimes law also dealt with Rwanda. In 2009, Desire Munyaneza was convicted in a Montreal court and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

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