ARUSHA - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) yesterday sentenced Protais Zigiranyirazo, also known as ‘Mr Zed’, to twenty years in jail on two counts of Genocide and extermination.
Zigiranyirazo, a brother-in-law of former President Habyarimana, had been charged with five counts that included; conspiracy to commit Genocide, Genocide, complicity in Genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity and murder as a crime against humanity.
Of all the five counts, in the chamber that was presided over by judge Inés Mónica Weinberg de Roca, it only found the accused guilty of two counts; Genocide and extermination.
According to, the judgment, the Trial Chamber II found the accused guilty of having participated in a joint criminal enterprise with a common purpose of committing Genocide and extermination as well as aiding and abetting Genocide.
The judge further read that the accused arrived at Kesho hill in the Western Province on the morning of April 8, 1994, as part of a convoy of assailants and delivered a speech to the assailants who subsequently killed between 800 and 1500 Tutsis.
“The chamber considers that the circumstances of the attack, including, among other factors, the coordinated manner in which the better-armed reinforcements arrived, the large number of assailants, and the support of authority figures, show a common plan to kill the Tutsis at Kesho Hill, and that the accused’s actions show that he shared this common purpose,” Weinberg de Roca read from the judgment.
However, the chamber dismissed prosecution charges that the accused was involved in the killing of the three gendarmes and one Stanislas Sinibagiwe.
The chamber thus concluded that there are no mitigating factors that could be taken into account in the determination of the sentence.
Clad in a cream suit, Zigiranyirazo was called by the judge to the witness box from where he was handed the sentence.
Rwanda’s Special Government Representative to the ICTR Alloys Mutabingwa described the judgment as a violation of the law of the ICTR that hands the life imprisonment sentence for the above counts Zigiranyirazo was found guilty of.
“The law is very clear on the sentence applicable of those two types of crimes. These call for life imprisonment as a maximum sentence,” he said.
Mutabingwa argued that although it doesn’t necessarily require imposing a maximum sentence on each of the above offences, it still defeats understanding.
“For a judge to find an accused guilty of Genocide and extermination and at the same time finds that there are no mitigating factors, circumstances warranting a reduction of sentence and yet concludes by saying a person deserves a lenient sentence,” he said after the ruling.
He added that the matter is of grave concern to the Government of Rwanda, especially when a court finds an accused guilty but can’t be in position of punishing the accused to the level that the law requires.
“These inconsistencies have to stop, it’s possible for the prosecution to appeal against the sentence and I hope that they will work on this. We think this is not a good record for the court; it is not a good record for the jurisprudence that this court seeks to be establishing,” Mutabingwa said.
The Chamber handed 20 years jail in relation to conviction of genocide at Kesho hills; 15 years imprisonment for genocide in relation to Kiyovu road block and 20 years imprisonment in relation to the conviction for extermination at Kesho Hill.
It however ruled that the sentences will be served concurrently and that the accused is entitled to credit for time already spent since his arrest in July 2001.
This will mean that the accused will only be jailed for thirteen years, after a reduction of the seven years he has been in detention. He will remain in the custody of the tribunal pending transfer to the country where he will complete his sentence.