Global Policy Forum

Rwanda: Kigali Denounces Acquittals at UN Tribunal

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
February 26, 2004

The Rwandan government has denounced a judgment handed down on Wednesday by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in which two former senior government officials were acquitted of charges related to genocide, a government official said on Thursday. "The judgment that was handed down is unsatisfactory and a shock to us," Edda Mukabagwiza said. "We are going to help the prosecution in launching an appeal." Although the court sentenced Samuel Imanishimwe, a former military commander in the Rwandan armed forces, to 27 years in prison after convicting him on six counts of "genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II", it acquitted Andre Ntagerura, former minister of transport and communications; and Emmanuel Bagambiki, former prefect of Cyangugu, of similar charges. This was the second time the tribunal had acquitted a suspect accused of involvement in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists. The tribunal had previously acquitted only one suspect, former Mabanza Mayor Ignace Bagilishema, who was found not guilty in June 2001. Mukabagwiza also said the government was displeased with Imanishimwe's sentence. "We want the prosecution to launch an appeal on all the three cases," she said. "We are ready to provide any evidence that the tribunal wants on these characters. This was a group of extremists that should not be let free." The tribunal, based in Arusha, Tanzania, ordered the immediate release of Ntagerura and Bagambiki, while the Rwandan government insisted the two should be held in prison pending an appeal. The tribunal was set up in November 1994 to try those accused of planning the 1994 genocide. To date, it has convicted 18 suspects, including Imanishimwe.

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