UN Court upholds guilty verdicts
Three convicts at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) had their guilty verdicts upheld by the Appeals Chamber of the tribunal. But one saw his life sentence reduced to 30 years in prison
Whereas life sentence was maintained on Lt Idelphonse Hategekimana and the 30-year prison sentence stayed on Gaspard Kanyarukiga, the chamber reduced the life sentence of Maj Alloys Ntabakuze to a 35-year prison sentence.
The tribunal was established by the UN to bring to book key architects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, most of them elite.
Hategekimana, who commanded a military camp in Ngoma, now Huye District, is notoriously known for having issued execution orders for inhumane treatment and killing of the elderly Queen, Rosalie Gicanda, from her palace.
The queen was murdered along with other members of her household. Her mother was also killed a few days later
“The confirmation of Hategekimana’s life sentence comes at a time when people in Huye prepare the commemoration of loved ones mainly killed by him or soldiers under his command,” said Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Executive Secretary for the National Commission for the Fight Against the Genocide (CNLG).
Mucyo, himself a survivor from areas around the then Ngoma Commune, said the commemoration event, which will also involve according decent burial to hundreds of victims, will take place on May 20.
Regarding the reduction of Ntabakuze’s life sentence, Mucyo said it was not strange for the tribunal to reduce sentences rendered towards former military officers, but maintained that the most important element is that his criminal culpability was confirmed.
A decision by the Tanzania-based court’s appeals chamber cannot be appealed against.
A former commander of the brutal Para-Commando Battalion, Ntabakuze was convicted of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity.
Initially part of the so-called military 1 trial that also involved Col Theoneste Bagosora, Ntabakuze, on appeal, had his trial separated from the others following the sacking by the tribunal of his lead counsel, American Peter Erlinder over misconduct.
Erlinder who had appointed himself the lawyer of Victoire Ingabire in a case where she is separately charged in Rwandan courts of terrorism related charges, was himself arrested over his numerous statements that denied the Genocide, among other charges.
The UN tribunal, which has until the end of 2014 to have finished operations, still has cases involving 15 persons on appeal.
Three cases remain in progress at substantial level, while one suspect has not been put on trial and other suspects indicted by the tribunal remain at large, including the financier of the 100-day mayhem, Felicien Kabuga.
In trying to deal with the caseloads, the court which has completed cases on at least 55 architects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, has started referring some of the suspects to national jurisdiction.
It is in this context that last month, the first ICTR detainee, Jean Bosco Uwinkindi, was transferred to Rwanda to stand trial.
Also in preparation of closure of business, a planned International Residual Mechanism is in the pipeline which is expected to deal with any pending issues after the court folds.
The mechanism, which will also be based in Arusha, the current seat of the ICTR, is expected to be launched in two months.
Contact email: felly.kimenyi[at]newtimes.co.rw