The Appeals Chamber of the ICTR, composed of Judges Claude Jorda, presiding, Lal Chand Vohrah, Mohammed Shahabuddeen, Rafael Nieto-Navia and Fausto Pocar, sitting in Arusha, today dismissed Omar Serushago's appeal and confirmed the sentence of fifteen years of imprisonment imposed upon him for genocide and crimes against humanity.
Serushago thus becomes the first person to be definitively convicted and sentenced by the ICTR. Six other accused persons have been convicted by the Trial Chambers however all of those convictions and the related sentences are subject to appeal.
Serushago, who was born in Gisenyi prefecture, Rwanda, on 24 April 1961, voluntarily surrendered himself to the authorities of the Ivory Coast and was transferred to the ICTR detention facility in Arusha in June 1998. He pleaded guilty to one count of genocide and to three counts of crimes against humanity and was found guilty of those charges on 14 December 1998. On 5 February 1999 he was sentenced to a single term of fifteen years of imprisonment by Trial Chamber I composed of Judges Laïty Kama, presiding, Navanethem Pillay and Lennart Aspegren.
In support of his appeal, Serushago argued that the Trial Chamber had not given sufficient weight to certain mitigating circumstances, in particular his voluntary surrender, his guilty plea and his cooperation with the Prosecutor.
Serushago will serve his sentence in a State to be designated by the Tribunal. It is recalled that, so far, Mali and Benin have signed agreements agreeing to accommodate persons convicted by the Tribunal in their prisons.