While Rwanda has welcomed a decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to sentence both Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera to life imprisonment for their role in 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, it also accuses the Arusha-based court of double standards and inconsistencies in its decisions.
During the Genocide, Ngirumpatse and Karemera, were President and Vice-President of Mouvement Révolutionnaire Nationale pour le Développement (MRND) respectively
The two were held responsible by the court for crimes committed by members of their party, notably its Interahamwe youth wing.
“The sentence matches the gravity of crimes for which they have been found guilty. It of course adds to the inconsistencies in sentencing we referred to when, shockingly, Bagosora escaped life sentence. Looking at this particular case however, it is a right sentence,” said Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga.
Col. Théoneste Bagosora , believed overwhelmingly to be one of the architects of the Rwandan ‘Final Solution’, had his sentence reduced from life to 35 years in prison while Lt Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva, who was serving a life sentence, had his sentence reduced to 15 years. The Court then ordered his immediate release.
The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Unity, Human Rights and the fight against Genocide, François Byabarumwanzi, also welcomed the ICTR sentences but expressed fury over the previous ones.
“I don’t understanding the logic in the ICTR approach; the masterminds are being given light sentences while those that were below them are getting bigger punishment. However, I welcome the court’s decision – it proves that indeed a crime was committed,” said Byabarumwanzi.
According to Dr Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the President of Ibuka, an umbrella organization of Genocide survivors’ associations, the life sentences Ngirumpatse and Karemera received are fitting, but he also blamed the ICTR for double standards.
“They deserved the life sentence, although the court is continuously proving its double standards. Bagosora deserved a higher punishment for his role in the Genocide,” said Dusingizemungu.
The ICTR judges convicted Ngirumpatse and Karemera, for crimes against humanity and war crimes, rape and sexual violence.
“Having considered the gravity of the crimes for which Karemera has been convicted, as well as all the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the Chamber unanimously sentences Edouard Karemera to life imprisonment,” presiding Judge Denis Byron pronounced, repeating the same words for Matthieu Ngirumpatse.
On April 11 and 12, 1994, the accused met with senior officials of the interim government at Hôtel des Diplomates, where weapons were distributed to Interahamwe militia, and from that date, the militias began to incorporate government officials, politicians, Interahamwe leaders and influential businessmen.
According to the judgment, Karemera and Ngirumpatse had authority and effective control over the Interahamwe who participated in attacks on Tutsi civilians throughout the Genocide, but failed to punish them.
“Keremera and Ngirumpatse failed to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent their subordinates from further killing Tutsis and to punish them for committing these further killings. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of unarmed men, women and children were killed as a direct result of policies of the Interim Government,” the judge said.
According to the Trial Chamber, the Prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Tutsi women and girls were raped, mutilated and sexually assaulted by Interahamwe, other militias, soldiers and civilians on a large scale in various places in Rwanda, as part of a widespread and systematic attack that intended to destroy the Tutsi ethnic group.
The judges noted that the accused took no action to prevent Interahamwe from raping women nor did they punish the perpetrators.
“Accordingly, the Chamber finds that Karemera and Ngirumpatse are liable for the rapes and sexual assaults against Tutsi women and girls,” the judges ruled.Follow https://twitter.com/EdwinMusoni