Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda today unanimously acquitted André Rwamakuba, the former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education in the 1994 Interim Government , of all charges brought against him.
Rwamakuba was charged with genocide, or alternatively, complicity in genocide, and extermination and murder as crimes against humanity for specific acts allegedly committed between 6 and 30 April 1994 in Gikomero commune and at Butare University Hospital. The Accused pleaded not guilty to all counts. His Defence did admit that genocide occurred in Rwanda in 1994 and that massacres were committed in these locations but disputed the Accused’s involvement in any of the crimes alleged in the Indictment.
In its Judgement, the Chamber found that the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against Rwamakuba. The Chamber was convinced that the testimony of Prosecution witnesses was mainly indirect and hearsay evidence and undermined by significant credibility and reliability issues. Furthermore, the Chamber heard testimony from Defence witnesses, including Tutsis survivors, that the Accused was not present at the time and location of the events and was not involved in the massacres that took place in Gikomero commune and at Butare University Hospital in April 1994.
During the course of the trial, the Prosecution invited the Chamber to hold the Accused, as a member of the Interim Government, liable for failing to denounce the crimes committed against the Tutsi, for not dissociating himself from the Government or for failing to discharge his duties as Minister. The Chamber found that the Prosecution had not properly pleaded this charge. It also noted that in any event, the Prosecution did not adduce any evidence as regard to what the Accused could or should have done as Minister or what he failed to do.
The Chamber composed to Judges Dennis C.M. Byron, presiding, Karin Hökborg and Gberdao Gustave Kam ordered the immediate release of Mr. Rwamakuba. The Accused was represented by David Hooper ( United Kingdom) and Andreas O’Shea ( South Africa).
André Rwamakuba was arrested in Namibia in October 1998. A first trial against him and three co-accused persons commenced in November 2003. In 2005, however, the Prosecution requested and obtained his severance and separate trial under an Amended Indictment. Between June 2005 and February 2006, the Chamber heard 18 Prosecution and 31 Defence witnesses over 78 trial days. Closing arguments were heard on 21 April 2006.