ARUSHA - The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) yesterday confirmed François Karera’s sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of his life.
Karera, 71, and the former Prefect (Governor) of Kigali Rural during the 1994 Genocide against Tustis, had challenged the life sentence rendered against him by a Trial Chamber in 2007.
The appellant was found guilty of Genocide, Extermination and Murder by the court of first instance but appealed to the higher court.
The Appeals Chamber composed of Judges Fausto Pocar, presiding, Mohamed Shahabuddeen, Mehmet Güney, Liu Daqun, and Theodor Meron affirmed the convictions for instigating and committing Genocide and for extermination and murder as crimes against humanity.
The Chamber affirmed the convictions based on the attack against, and killings of a huge number of Tutsis who had sought refuge at Ntarama church, now in Bugesera District during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The tribunal was established by the UN Security Council to try masterminds of the Genocide that left over one million people dead in just 100 days.
The judges also found Karera responsible for the deaths of Tutsis killed near his Kigali City residence in Nyamirambo and also responsible for the killings at the former Rushashi Commune where he supported and armed Interahamwe militias to carry out the massacres.
The Appeals Chamber concluded that based on all the crimes against humanity that the appellant committed, he deserved no lesser punishment than life imprisonment.
Life imprisonment is the heaviest sentence the UN court can deliver. Meanwhile, an anonymous source knowledgeable and who actively participated in Karera’s case right from its beginning, described the judgment as ‘well deserved’.
“We are actually very happy because he really deserved this punishment. It was a very challenging investigative time for us to get witnesses because many of them had been intimidated and they feared speaking out the truth. But we finally got them,” said the source.
Karera becomes the forty second person to be convicted by the Tanzania-based tribunal since its establishment almost 15 years ago.
While he remains in the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Karera is the ninth among the convicted persons who are pending transfer to a country in which they will serve and complete their sentence.
The former Kigali governor was arrested in Nairobi, Kenya, on October 20, 2001 and was transferred the following day to the ICTR detention centre, in Arusha, northern Tanzania.