The Government of Rwanda has expressed disappointment at a decision by the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) to acquit Gen Gratien Kabiligi, a former Head of the Military Operations Bureau (G-3) of the Ex-FAR during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama said that Rwandans who know Kabiligi and what he did during the Genocide are not happy at all by the decision of the ICTR.
“Everybody knows Kabiligi as one of the chief architects of the Genocide, it is a surprise that he has been acquitted, we are totally disappointed” said Karugarama.
The ICTR yesterday made the decision to acquit Kabiligi who was on trial alongside other former top officials in the Ex-FAR that included Theoneste Bagosora, a former director of cabinet in the Ministry of Defence and regarded by the ICTR as the “mastermind” of the Genocide.
The justice minister also expressed disappointment at the 20-year sentence against Protais Zigiranyirazo, commonly known as ‘Mr Zed’, which he says is too light compared to the magnitude of crimes he committed and the role he played during the Genocide.
Zigiranyirazo is a former businessman and a brother in-law to former president Juvenal Habyarimana. However, despite Kabiligi’s acquittal, the Government of Rwanda has welcomed the guilty verdicts and subsequent life sentences handed out to Bagosora and his two co-accused; Aloys Ntabakuze and Anatole Nsengiyumva.
“Whereas the Government of Rwanda welcomes today’s verdict and life sentence of Colonel Theoneste Bagosora and his co-accused; Aloys Ntabakuze and Anatole Nsengiyunva, the Government of Rwanda is disappointed by the decision to acquit General Gratien Kabiligi and expects that the ICTR Prosecutor will appeal this decision,” read an official statement by the Government.
Bagosora was considered to be the most powerful person during the events that preceded the massacre of over a million innocent Tutsis during the 1994 Genocide.
The high profile trial which started six and a half years ago was also linked to ‘Le Clan de Madame’, known as the ‘akazu’, a group that paid allegiance to Agathe Habyarimana, the former First Lady, that is said to have played a vital role in coordinating the Genocide.
Bagosora was facing 13 counts of Genocide crimes and over 240 witnesses were lined up against him by the prosecution of the Tanzania-based UN court.