The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) today convicted Rwandan former minister Augustin Ngirabatware for incitement and involvement in the country’s 1994 genocide.
Reports say the ex-minister was sentenced to 35 years in jail by the U.N. war crimes tribunal.
According to ICTR, the former Rwandan minister of planning instigated, planned, aided on killings of Tutsis during the 1994 genocide.
In her press statement in Washington DC today, Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland says the United States welcomes this ruling as an important step in providing justice and accountability for the Rwandan people and the international community.
Ms. Nuland says as the Rwandan minister of planning at the time of the genocide in 1994, Mr. Ngirabatware was accused of using funds from his department to finance the genocide.
Mr. Ngirabatware was a fugitive from justice until his arrest in Germany in 2007.
“With the conclusion of this trial, judgments have now been rendered as to all of the 81 arrested persons who were tried at the ICTR.” – Ms. Nuland
The US commends the ICTR for carrying out its trials according to the principles of fairness and due process; and for its efficient steps towards completing its work.
According to Ms. Nuland, there are still nine ICTR fugitives at-large, including three high level fugitives who will be prosecuted by the residual mechanism of the ICTR upon capture: Felicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya, and Augustin Bizimana.
She adds the other six fugitives are slated to be tried in Rwandan courts once they are captured.
“Yesterday’s conviction sends a strong signal that the international community will not rest until the remaining fugitives are brought to account.” – Ms. Nuland
She says the United States continues to offer monetary rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or transfer of all ICTR fugitives, whether those individuals will be prosecuted by the residual mechanism of the ICTR or in Rwandan courts.
In addition, the US government urges all countries to redouble their cooperation with the ICTR so that fugitives can be arrested. Those who harbor fugitives obstruct justice and stand on the wrong side of history.
In May this year, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal has convicted three former Rwandan officers for their participation in the genocide in 1994 of Tutsi along with some moderate Hutu.
The Appeals Chamber delivered three verdicts in the cases of former Rwandan military officials, Major Aloys Ntabakuze and Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana, in addition to businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga.
Reports say the Appeals Chamber reduced the sentence of Ntabakuze from life to 35 years and affirmed both the life sentence of Hategekimana and the 30 year sentence of Kanyarukiga
The United States has welcomed ICTR judgements of the three individuals.
US sais the ICTR has affirmed the convictions of these three individuals for genocide and crimes against humanity, among other crimes.
Although some counts against Ntabakuze were set aside by the Appeals Chamber, the decision indicates a careful, transparent, and balanced judicial process, Ms. Nuland underlined.
The three were sentenced to 30 years, 35 years, and life in prison, respectively.
Ntabakuze and Hategekimana were both officers in the Rwandan Army (commander and lieutenant).
Ntabakuze was an ex-Commander of the Rwandan Para-Commando Battalion and was arrested in Kenya on July, 1997. On December 2008, he was found guilty by Trial Chamber I of genocide, crimes against humanity particularly murder, extermination, persecution, and other inhumane acts and serious violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and violence to life for murders of Tutsi civilians.
Hategekimana was arrested in Congo Brazzaville on 16th February 2003. He was alleged to have commanded the small military camp in Butare during the Genocide. He was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in ordering the massacre of Tutsi refugees at the Ngoma church.
Kanyarukiga, a businessman, was convicted of genocide based on his participation in the planning of the destruction of a church in Kivumu, resulting in the death of approximately 2,000
Nine judges are set to finish the work of the United Nations tribunal dealing with the worst war crimes committed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda as they were sworn-in on Wednesday.
UN International Residual Mechanism of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was set up in 2010 which is based in Arusha, Tanzania.
The sworn-in judges include Judge Florence Arrey, Solomy B. Bossa, Vagn Prusse Joensen, Gberdao G. Kam, Joseph C. Masanche, Lee Muthoga, Seon K. Park, Mparany M. R. Rajohnson, and William H. Sekule.
The ICTR was set up by the Security Council in the wake of the genocide, in which it is estimated that more 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates were killed, mainly by machete, during a period of about 100 days starting on 6th of April 1994.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide claimed 800,000 lives. Mostly those belonging to the Tutsi tribe were slaughtered but machetes also slashed many moderate Hutus who called for peaceful coexistence. The official history claims that the genocide, like tsunamis or tornadoes, could have neither be predicted nor prevented.