Rwanda: UN Appeals Court Rejects Genocide Accused's Trial in Kigali

Arusha — The Appeals Court of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has upheld decision of the Lower Court to deny Prosecutor's request to transfer genocide accused former businessman, 73-year-old Yusuf Munyakazi, to stand a trial in Kigali as part of the UN Court's completion strategy.

In a decision rendered on 8 October, the Presiding Judge Fausto Pocar dismissed three of the four grounds of the prosecution's appeal in its 20-page ruling, reports Hirondelle Agency.

"The Appeals Chamber has granted ground two of the appeal, finding that the Trial Chamber erred in holding that Rwanda does not respect the independence of the judiciary and that the composition of the courts in Rwanda does not accord with the right to be tried by and independent tribunal and the right to a fair trial.," he stated.

However, the Upper Court, he said, has dismissed the remaining grounds of appeals, which relate to fundamental matters concerning whether Munyakazi's right to obtain the attendance of, and to examine, Defence witnesses under the same conditions as witnesses called by the Prosecution, can be guaranteed at this time in Rwanda and whether the penalty structure in Rwanda was adequate for the purposes of transfer under Rule 11 bis of the Rules.

He added:" Despite granting ground two of the Appeal, the Appeals Chamber finds that the Trial Chamber did not err in denying the Prosecution's request to refer Munyakazi's case to Rwanda".

The lower chamber in its decision in May, this year, ruled that they were not convinced that the accused would get a fair trial in Kigali.

"The Chamber is not satisfied that the accused, if transferred to Rwanda at the present time, will receive a fair trial," stated in their unanimous decision Judges Weinberg de Roca of Argentina (presiding), Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Robert Fremr (Czech).

Kigali last year abolished the capital punishment, but the first instance judges ruled that Rwanda's penalty structure such as life imprisonment in isolation, does not meet internationally recognized standards.

Observers consider that Appeals Chamber ruling will impact other two similar pending appeals, which are yet to be decided-- former Commander of Ngoma Camp Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana and businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga.

The transfer motions of Former Mayor Jean Baptist Gatete and former Inspector of Judicial Police, Fulgence Kaysihema, are yet to be heard before the first instance courts. The latter is still at large.

Headquartered in Arusha, northern Tanzania , ICTR has, to date, delivered 31 convictions and five acquittals.

Nine accused, held in Arusha, are currently awaiting their trials, whereas 13 suspects are still on the run, including Felicien Kabuga, the alleged financier of killings, which according to UN estimates claimed lives of about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus

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