UN tribunal for Rwandan genocide commutes convicts’ life sentence on appeal

UN Photo/Mark Garten

8 May 2012 – The appeals chamber of the United Nations tribunal trying key suspects implicated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda today commuted a convict’s life sentence to 35 years in prison after reversing convictions on some counts in his indictment, and upheld the prison terms of two other men.

Appeal judges in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) reduced the life term imposed on Aloys Ntabakuze, a former Rwandan army major, after he was found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.

While affirming some of the Trial Chamber’s original findings, the court reversed Mr. Ntabakuze’s convictions for murder as a crime against humanity and set aside the finding of the trial chamber that he was responsible for crimes by committed by militiamen. He was also cleared of the charge of preventing a group of people who were later killed from fleeing.

In the case of Ildephonse Hategekimana, a former lieutenant in the Rwanda military, the court dismissed his appeal and confirmed the sentence of life imprisonment based on his convictions for genocide and murder and rape as crimes against humanity.

Also dismissed was the appeal launched by Gaspard Kanyarukiga, a former businessman, who was convicted in 2010 of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity for his participation in the planning of the destruction of a church in Rwanda’s Kibuye prefecture – an action that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2,000 Tutsi civilians. The appeals chamber upheld Mr. Kanyarukiga’s sentence of 30 years in prison.

Based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, the ICTR was set up after the Rwandan genocide, when at least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed during three months of bloodletting that followed the deaths of then Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira when their plane was brought down over the capital, Kigali on 6 April 1994.


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