Organisations representing survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, yesterday described as ‘too minor’ the 25-year sentence handed to Lieutenant Colonel Ephrem Setako, the former head of the division of legal affairs in the Ministry of Defence by International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
They said that though the sentence was light, at least the court managed to find Setako guilty of Genocide.
Among other counts, the court found the former officer guilty of crimes against humanity (extermination) and serious violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II (murder).
“The sentence had some implications that justice was delivered because we have cases where some witnesses are bribed to hide the truth instead of pinning those Genocide suspects,” the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean de Dieu Mucyo, said.
Mucyo reaffirmed that Setako was an influential member in former President Juvenal Habyarimana’s government, and cautioned ICTR judges to always critically monitor cases of witnesses being bribed to give false testimonies.
Theodore Simburudari, the president of Ibuka, an umbrella organization of Genocide survivors’ associations, said that Setako should have been sentenced to life imprisonment as demanded by ICTR laws on persons convicted for Genocide.
This is not the first time that activists have come out to strongly criticize decisions taken by the Arusha-based tribunal.
In November last year, Ibuka demonstrated against ICTR’s acquittal of Protais Zigiranyirazo, commonly known as” Mr. Z” and Catholic priest Hormisdas Nsengimana.
Simburudari urged the government to request the UN Security Council to investigate ICTR judges over their unfair rulings.