Govt condemns early release of Genocide convict Col. Simba

Aloys Simba. Net photo.

The Government has condemned the decision by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) to grant early release to Col. Aloys Simba, a Genocide convict who was serving his 20-year sentence.

In a statement released Friday, the government said it strongly opposes the early release of Simba, saying the court should let him serve his entire prison term.

MICT is led by Judge Theodor Meron whom the government alleges has been unlawfully releasing Genocide convicts.

“The Government of Rwanda learned that Judge Meron is planning on releasing Aloys Simba from prison. This unilateral action by Judge Meron comes over the objections of the Government of Rwanda and despite the dire consequences of Simba’s release for the survivors of his crimes, his lack of remorse, and his failure to cooperate with authorities,” reads the statement in part.

According to officials, in the midst of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Simba converted what should have been places of refuge into human slaughterhouses.

The statement says Simba orchestrated the brutal massacre of his victims in order to advance the genocidal destruction of an entire group.

“At Kaduha Parish, Simba put traditional weapons, guns, and grenades into the hands of mass murderers and ordered them to ‘get rid of this filth’,” the statement explains.

“Simba likewise handed out weapons to militias surrounding the Murambi Technical School and instructed them to massacre the thousands of Tutsi civilians seeking shelter there,” it added

The ministry of justice said that while one might legitimately question whether the deliberate massacre of more than 1,000 innocent civilians is adequately punished by a term of 25 year- imprisonment the Judge Meron somehow believes that greater leniency is due and has decided to set Simba free eight years before the end of his sentence.

“Under Judge Meron’s presidency, Rwanda and the world have watched as he reversed convictions, reduced sentences, and released criminals long before they served their duly imposed prison terms. His plan to release Simba is not the result of a statutory requirement or the facts,” the statement continues to read.

The government said that Judge Meron alone had created an arbitrary and automatic rule, not required by statute and unburdened by individualised considerations and assessments, to release any prisoner after service of two-thirds of the sentence terming it as not justice.

“He is not at liberty to undermine what was found and upheld by courts of law, following multi-year investigations and months-long prosecutions, where the sentence captured the fullness of the events and considered all relevant arguments,” the statement alleges

“As a matter of international law, the Mechanism must take into account the gravity of the offense, the interests of the victim survivors, the prisoner’s demonstration of repentance and rehabilitation, and his cooperation with the prosecution,” it says

The government, through the statement urged the next President to take more seriously the law and the facts when reviewing applications for early release.

Once released, Simba won’t be the first Genocide convict to get early release under the Judge Meron.

Over 10 masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, through unclear procedure, have been granted early release after they were convicted and handed varying sentences by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), according to officials.

“With due consideration to appropriate and established legal and factual considerations, the Mechanism can review and act upon an application for release prior to completion of the sentence. But such decisions must be viewed as the exception, reserved for special cases and backed by compelling justifications,” the government said

It urged that the United Nations member states must understand that Judge Meron’s approach threatens to undermine the international criminal justice.

MICT took over from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).