3 February 2013

Rwanda: ICTR Appeals Court to Decide Fate of Two Ex-Ministers Today

Photo: United Nations
Rwandan children, refugees of the 1994 genocide (file photo).

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will today deliver its judgement in the trial of two former ministers.

Prosper Mugiraneza was the public service minister, while Justin Mugenzi was Minister of Trade during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

In September 2011, the tribunal sentenced the duo to 30 years in prison, in the case commonly known as Government II - after finding them guilty of conspiracy to commit genocide, and direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

They were convicted of participating in the removal of Butare's Tutsi Prefect, Jean-Baptiste Habyalimana, and based on their participation in a joint criminal enterprise at the installation ceremony where Interim President Theodore Sindikubwabo gave a speech inciting the killing of the Tutsi.

Last year, Mugenzi and Mugiraneza pleaded innocent and asked the judges to set them free.

Prosecution nails

After he was removed from office, Prefect Habyarimana was killed and massacres, which had so far been limited, became widespread and systematic in Butare prefecture.

The prosecution has maintained that through their presence at the meeting, both former ministers participated in a conspiracy to commit genocide and were guilty of incitement to genocide through approving, even tacitly, the incendiary speech delivered in Butare on April 19, 1994 by Sindikubwabo.

With the court having until the end of next year to finish all its work, this judgement will be its first hearing in 2013.

During the same judgement in 2011, colleagues of the former ministers in the Government II trial, Casimir Bizimungu, ex-Minister of Health, and Jérôme Bicamumpaka, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, were acquitted.

The acquittal was met with dismay, with officials saying it was a contradiction to the tribunal's stand.

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