The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean de Dieu Mucyo has attributed the release of Priest Hormisdas Nsengimana to laxity by prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
Nsengimana was yesterday acquitted by the tribunal’s trial Chamber I, composed of Judges Erik Møse (Norway), presiding, Sergei Alekseevich Egorov and Florence Rita Arrey.
The Catholic Priest had been accused of Genocide, Conspiracy to commit Genocide, and crimes against humanity, murder and extermination.
The Chamber did not find a sufficient factual and legal basis for concluding that Nsengimana was guilty of any of the crimes, although prosecution had requested a life sentence for the priest for killing innocent people in Nyanza, Southern Province.
But Mucyo described the release as a ‘sad and unfortunate moment’ adding that all this should be blamed on the ICTR prosecution which he said takes their work lightly when it comes to pinning Genocide suspects.
“It’s very painfully Zigiranyirazo has just been acquitted and we are getting such a case again, there must be something planned ahead,” Mucyo said.
The CNLG boss added that the ICTR prosecution has on a number of occasions been caught up in situations where its witnesses are bribed just to doctor testimonies that would have pinned Genocide suspects.
At the time of his alleged crimes, Nsengimana was the head of the Christ the King College of Nyanza, Southern Province, where he was a leader of a death squad that included his members of staff.
Nsegimana’s acquittal comes just a day after the tribunal released Protais Zigiranyirazo an influential member of the infamous Akazu, and hardly a year after the release of Brigadier Gracien Kabiligi a man many consider played a strong military role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
The Priest was arrested in Cameroon in 2002 and made his initial appearance before the tribunal in April 2002.
Trial Chamber I, composed of Judges Erik Møse (Norway), presiding, Sergei Alekseevich Egorov (Russian Federation) and Florence Rita Arrey (Cameroon) today acquitted Hormisdas Nsengimana of genocide as well as murder and extermination as crimes against humanity. It then ordered his immediate release from the UN Detention Facility in Arusha.
During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Nsengimana was a priest and rector of Collège Christ-Roi, a prestigious Catholic secondary school in Nyanza sector, Butare prefecture.
Nsengimana was alleged to have been at the centre of a group of Hutu extremists that planned and carried out targeted attacks in Nyanza in 1994.
Moreover, he purportedly participated directly and indirectly in killings.
The Prosecution sought to establish his criminal responsibility for the deaths of several Tutsi priests, a judge, and many other Tutsi victims.
He was also alleged to have established and supervised at least three roadblocks in the vicinity of Christ-Roi, which were mounted to intercept
and eliminate Tutsis.
The Chamber did not find a sufficient factual and legal basis for concluding that Nsengimana was guilty of any of the crimes.
Nsengimana was arrested in Cameroon in March 2002 and made his initial appearance before the Tribunal in April 2002. The trial commenced on 22 June 2007 and concluded on 17 September 2008.
Nineteen Prosecution witnesses and 24 Defence witnesses, including Nsengimana, testified during the proceedings. Oral arguments were held on 12 and 13 February 2009.
The Prosecution team was led by Senior Trial Attorney Wallace Kapaya and included Brian Wallace. Nsengimana was represented by Emmanuel Altit (France) and David Hooper (United Kingdom).