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Burundi: Execution / Fear of further executions. More than 350 people under sentence of death

, N° d'index: AFR 16/016/2000

Two soldiers, Napoléon Manirakiza and Sergeant René Rukengamangamizi, were executed on 19 October just hours after they were sentenced to death, in flagrant disregard of their right to appeal. Amnesty International is concerned that other prisoners under sentence of death could now face imminent execution.

PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 16/16/00
UA 324/00 Execution / Fear of further executions 25 October 2000
BURUNDIMore than 350 people under sentence of death
Executed:Napoléon Manirakiza
Sergeant René Rukengamangamizi
Two soldiers were executed on 19 October just hours after they were sentenced
to death, in flagrant disregard of their right to appeal. Both men received
unfair trials, in which they were denied legal assistance. Amnesty International
is concerned that other prisoners under sentence of death, in particular those
convicted by military courts, could now face imminent execution.
These are the first executions in Burundi since July 1999. There are more than
350 condemned prisoners in the country, including at least five soldiers. Three
other soldiers were sentenced to death in absentia.
Napoléon Manirakiza, an army deserter, and Sergeant René Rukengamangamizi were
executed shortly after they had been sentenced to death by a military court
(conseil de guerre) in Gitega. Under Burundian law they had the right to appeal
to the Military Court of Appeal (Cour militaire), then to the cassation chamber
of the Supreme Court and finally to the head of state for clemency. They were
executed by firing squad on a military training ground. People from the area
watched the execution.
Napoléon Manirakiza was convicted of the murder of Father Antonio Bargiggi,
a volunteer with an Italian religious association, committed on 3 October.
Two others, Martin Ndihokubwayo and Jean-Pierre Bukuru, were sentenced to life
imprisonment
Sergeant René Rukengamangamizi was convicted of the premeditated murder of
Caritas Nahimana, the head of Gitega medical school, and her two sons on 4
October.
The executions show once again that senior military officers have a blatant
disregard for the rule of law. Executions carried out after unfair trials amount
to arbitrary executions in violation of the right to life guaranteed in Article
6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 4
of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The last execution carried out in Burundi was that of Corporal Bonaventure
Ndikumana, who was executed in Mabanda military camp on 29 July 1999. He had
been sentenced to death the previous day by Bujumbura military court (conseil
de guerre). He was executed despite the fact that his lawyer, the Head of the
Burundian Bar Association, had lodged an appeal with the Military Court of
Appeal. He had been convicted of the murder of another soldier, reportedly
the relative of a senior military official.
The last executions of people sentenced to death by civilian courts were carried
out in 1997, when six people sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials
were executed.
Over 350 people have now been sentenced to death since 1996, many after unfair
trials and years in detention. The fairness of proceedings is undermined by
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the fact that case files are not properly compiled, witnesses often do not
show up in court, and hearings are repeatedly delayed. Furthermore, under the
Burundian legal system, those sentenced to death by civilian courts do not
have the right to full appeal. Over 100 people have lost all the limited appeals
options open to them and may now only appeal for presidential clemency.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
French or your own language (please check whether postal services are
functioning to Burundi from your country):
- expressing concern at the execution of Napoléon Manirakiza and Sergeant René
Rukengamangamizi;
- expressing concern that both men were denied their right to appeal;
- calling for an investigation into why proper legal procedures were not
followed, and for those responsible for ordering these arbitrary executions
to be brought to justice;
- urging the authorities not to carry out any further executions and for
President Buyoya to grant clemency in any capital cases which come before him;
- appealing to the authorities to take all measures necessary to ensure that
all trials in Burundi conform to international standards of fairness as required
by the international human rights treaties to which Burundi is party, including
by providing for the right to a full appeal in capital cases.
APPEALS TO: (Please note it can be difficult to get faxes through. You may
be told by the operator that the line is not working or the number is wrong.
Please keep trying.)
President
Major Pierre Buyoya
Président de la République
Présidence de la République
BP 1870, Bujumbura, Burundi
Fax: + 257 22 74 90
Telegrams: Major Buyoya, Bujumbura, Burundi
Salutation:Dear President
Minister of Defence
Colonel Cyrille NDAYIRUKIYE
Ministre de la Défense Nationale
Ministère de la Défense Nationale
BP 1870 Bujumbura
Burundi
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
Fax: + 257 22 39 59 / 21 75 05
Minister of Justice
Monsieur Térence SINUNGURUZA
Ministre de la Justice et Garde des sceaux
Ministère de la Justice
BP 1880, Bujumbura, Burundi
Fax: + 257 22 21 48
Telegram:Ministre Justice, Bujumbura, Burundi
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Minister for Human Rights, Institutional Reform and Relations with the National
Assembly
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Eugène NINDORERA, Ministre des droits de la Personne humaine, des réformes
institutionnelles, et des relations avec l’Assemblée nationale, Ministère des
droits de la Personne humaine, des réformes institutionnelles, et des relations
avec l’Assemblée nationale, Bujumbura, Burundi
Fax: + 257 21 38 47
and to diplomatic representatives of Burundi accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 5 December 2000.

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