ICTR early releases raise eyebrows
JUSTICE:These releases are a worrying trend
Protests are mounting following the early release of Genocide convict, Tharcisse Muvunyi from the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania, early this week.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) ordered his early release following a decision signed by the ICTR President, Vagn Joensen. Tharcisse Muvunyi is being released after serving more than three-quarters his sentence.
Muvunyi, a colonel in the former Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR), was arrested in the UK in 2000. During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi he was the Commander of Non-Commissioned Officers training school(ESO) in Butare (now Huye).
Protesting the court’s decision yesterday, the Prosecutor General of Rwanda, Martin Ngoga, explained that the “intolerable” decision was linked to his good conduct.
“I think this is a serious matter that needs immediate attention. These releases are a worrying trend. We object and protest the release of convicted genocidaires simply on the grounds that they conducted themselves well in prison,” he said.
Two other ICTR convicts were granted early release, in the past few months, on similar grounds.
The former head of Rwandan Tea Authority, Michel Bagaragaza, was set free on December 1, 2011 while Juvénal Rugambarara, a former mayor of Bicumbi was released on February 8 this year.
Ngoga said Genocide convicts have never regretted the heinous crimes they committed:
“What is definition of good conduct? We need to re-examine this because the way I see it, most of them may be on their way out very soon. In our opinion, the overriding factor should be a genuine apology to the survivors and the entire community, at the very least. Otherwise, they should serve their full sentences,” added Ngoga.
According to an ICTR statement, Muvunyi has served more than 12 of his 15 year sentence.
Who is Tharcisse Muvunyi?
Muvunyi was the most senior military officer in the then Butare Préfecture from April to June 1994. During this period, he, in the company of other local leaders, went to various communes all over Butare Préfecture to incite the local population to perpetrate massacres against the Tutsi.
He was accused of having directly participated in the provision of grenades and other weapons to the Interahamwe militia and ordering ESO officers to carry out massacres.
Muvunyi was first convicted on September 12, 2006 for multiple acts of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and other inhumane acts and was on that date sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
After appeal, a re-trial was ordered on one count of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
On February 11, 2010, the Trial Chamber III of the Tribunal found him guilty of the charge and sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment with credit for time served from February 5, 2000.
The single charge of direct and public incitement to commit genocide related particularly to a speech Muvunyi made at Gikore Commercial Centre, Butare Prefecture, southern Rwanda, in May 1994. Muvunyi was accused of using Kinyarwanda proverbs to incite locals to kill.
Contact email: james.karuhanga[at]newtimes.co.rw