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
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
Sergeant René Rukengamangamizi was convicted of the premeditated murder of
Caritas Nahimana, the head of Gitega medical school, and her two sons on 4
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.
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
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