ARUSHA - The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) , Hassan Bubacar Jallow, has welcomed the 30-year prison sentence handed down to former Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Augustin Bizimungu, for his involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Bizimungu was convicted on six counts of Genocide, crimes against humanity for murder, extermination and rape and violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional protocol II (murder; rape, humiliating treatment).
"The judgement is important to all persons in positions of leadership, especially military commanders. It establishes very clearly that superiors will be held legally responsible for the acts committed by their subordinates." Jallow said in an interview in Arusha, Tanzania, the seat of the ICTR.
Three other former military officers were also sentenced on Tuesday, in the long-running case known as the ‘Military II’ trial.
They include former chief of the gendarmerie, Gen. Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former Commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion, Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, who commanded one of the squadrons of the unit.
"I think that message ought to go out. Leaders are expected to prevent their subordinates from engaging in unlawful activities or if they cannot prevent them to punish them thereafter. It is an excellent message that needed to be disseminated globally in Africa and beyond,” he added.
Jallow said that the prosecution did not totally lose in the case as the judges recognised that there had been a plan to exterminate Tutsis.
"The judges said that what happened in Rwanda in 1994, the Genocide, could not have happened in the absence of some kind of coordination, organisation and planning" he said.
The Chamber found Bizimungu and Ndindiliyimana responsible for offences perpetrated by soldiers and gendarmes under their command in 1994.
In addition, Bizimungu was found to have made a speech in Mukingo Commune, calling for the beginning of a killing spree of Tutsis in Ruhengeri, Northern Province.
The chamber also found Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu, guilty of having ordered the killing of the Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and failing to punish perpetrators involved in killing 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers on April 7, 1994.
Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu each received a prison sentence of 20 years while Ndindiliyimana was sentenced to time served since 2000, and released.