'give them life'

ARUSHA - Prosecutors at the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda yesterday demanded life sentences for the former heads of the army and gendarmes for their role in the 1994 genocide.

ARUSHA - Prosecutors at the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda yesterday demanded life sentences for the former heads of the army and gendarmes for their role in the 1994 genocide.

"For their historic and indelible failure to stop the massacre, justice will be done if you condemn these men to life in prison," prosecutor Alphonse Van told judges at the Arusha, Tanzania, court while summing up.

Former army chief Augustin Bizimungu and former head of the paramilitary police. General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, as well as two other senior officers, are charged with genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide.

"In 1994 the Rwandan armed forces failed in their duty. They turned against the people, turning their back on the enemy," said Van.

"We will never know how many victims there were. What is sure is that a genocide took place quite simply because the Rwandan armed forces wanted it to," he said.

Van also called for life sentences to be imposed on the other two army officers, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu.

Defence lawyers started to make their summing up yesterday and will finish today.

The trial involving these senior military officials began in September 2004.

The UN-backed ICTR was formed in late 1994 and is tasked with trying the masterminds of Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

About 800000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed in a period of 100 days. - Sapa-AFP

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