Friday, December 19, 2008
ICTR Gives Life Sentences for Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity to Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva; Kabiligi Acquitted and Released
From an ICTR Press Release: Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) rendered judgement in the “Military I” case involving four senior officers of the Rwandan army in 1994: Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, Director of Cabinet in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence; General Gratien Kabiligi, head of the military operations bureau (G-3) of the army general staff; Major Aloys Ntabakuze, commander of the Para Commando Battalion; and Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, commander of the Operational Sector of Gisenyi.
It sentenced Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes based on their role in crimes committed in Rwanda. The Chamber acquitted Kabiligi of all charges against him and ordered his release. It also acquitted each of the Accused of conspiring to commit genocide before 7 April 1994.
The Chamber found that, in the first days after the death of President Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, Bagosora was the highest authority in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence with authority over the Rwandan military. He was considered responsible for the killing, on 7 April, of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, Joseph Kavaruganda, the President of the Constitutional Court, as well as Frédéric Nzamurambaho, Landoald Ndasingwa and Faustin Rucogoza, who were opposition party officials and government ministers. He was found guilty in connection with the killing of ten Belgian peacekeepers who were killed by soldiers at Camp Kigali on 7 April. Bagosora was also responsible for the organised killings perpetrated by soldiers and militiamen at a number of sites throughout Kigali and Gisenyi between 6 and 9 April. Ntabakuze was found guilty, as the commander of the elite Para Commando Battalion, for the participation of his soldiers in killings at Kabeza, Nyanza Hill and the L’Institut Africain et Mauricien de Statistiques et d’Economie (IAMSEA) in Kigali. Nsengiyumva was considered responsible for massacres at Mudende University, Nyundo Parish as well as the targeted killing of civilians in Gisenyi prefecture, the area under his operational command. He was also guilty of sending militiamen to the Bisesero area of Kibuye prefecture to kill Tutsi refugees in June 1994. The Prosecution alleged that Kabiligi participated in the distribution of weapons, meetings to plan the genocide as well as a number of specific crimes, many of which were related to roadblocks in the Kigali area. Kabiligi advanced a successful alibi for much of this time period. It was also not proven that he had operational authority or that he targeted civilians.
The trial opened on 2 April 2002 before Trial Chamber III. After the non-reelection of one judge and the announced retirement of another, the case was transferred with the consent of the Accused in June 2003 to Trial Chamber I, composed of Judges Erik Møse of Norway (presiding), Sergei Alekseevich Egorov of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji.
A total of 242 witnesses were heard during the trial, 82 for the Prosecution and 160 for the Defence. The trial concluded after 408 days. More than 300 written judicial decisions were issued during the course of the proceedings.
In parallel with this trial, the judges heard nine single-accused cases. The Prosecution trial team was lead by Barbara Mulvaney of the United States. The Defence teams were led by Raphaël Constant of Martinique (Bagosora); Paul Skolnik of Canada (Kabiligi); Peter Erlinder of the United States (Ntabakuze); and Kennedy Ogetto of Kenya (Nsengiyumva).