The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, today sentenced Aloys Simba, a retired lieutenant colonel and former member of parliament, to 25 years’ imprisonment after finding him guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity based on his participation in the massacre of Tutsi civilians at the Murambi Technical School and at the Kaduha Parish in Gikongoro prefecture.
This trial is the first case decided by the Tribunal which specifically concerns massacres in Gikongoro prefecture. Simba assumed the role of civil defence adviser in Gikongoro on 18 May 1994. The Chamber noted that the Murambi Technical School and Kaduha Parish massacres are not related to his actions in this position.
Trial Chamber I found Simba guilty on two of the four counts against him. The Prosecutor originally charged Simba with four counts but later declined to pursue the counts of complicity to commit genocide and murder as a crime against humanity. The Chamber found him not guilty on those two counts.
On 21 April 1994, militiamen backed by gendarmes killed Tutsi civilians at the Murambi Technical School, nearby Cyanika Parish, and Kaduha Parish in what the Chamber described as “a highly coordinated operation” involving the support of local authorities and prominent personalities such as Simba. The Chamber noted that this operation was conducted for about 12 hours on a single day and involved the killing of thousands of Tutsi.
The Chamber found that Simba distributed weapons at Murambi Technical School and Kaduha Parish and gave encouragement and approval to the assailants by virtue of his prominent status in Rwandan society. The Chamber noted that Simba is a member of the “Comrades of the Fifth of July”, who participated in the coup d’état that brought former President Juvenal Habyarimana to power in 1973, and was well-known throughout Rwanda.
In sentencing Simba to 25 years’ imprisonment for his role in the Murambi and Kaduha attacks, the Chamber explained that it was not convinced that he was one of the architects of the massacres. In addition, it noted that Simba’s actions did not demonstrate any particular zeal or sadism. In particular, he did not personally kill anyone and only remained at the sites for a brief period.
Simba will receive credit for the 4 years and 16 days he has been in detention since his arrest. The Trial Chamber ordered that Simba remain in custody of the Tribunal pending transfer to the State where he will serve his sentence.
Aloys Simba was arrested in Senegal on 27 November 2001. The trial commenced on 30 August 2004 and closed on 8 July 2005. Over the course of 30 trial days, the Prosecution called 16 witnesses. The Defence case opened on 13 December 2004. During 23 trial days, the Defence called 20 witnesses, including the Accused.
Trial Chamber I is composed of judges Erik Møse ( Norway), presiding, Sergei Alekseevich Egorov ( Russia), and Dennis C. M. Byron ( St. Kitts and Nevis). Aloys Simba was represented by Mr. Sadikou Alao of Benin and Ms. Beth Lyons of the United States. The Prosecution team was headed by Richard Karegyesa of Uganda.
The Tribunal has handed down judgements involving 26 persons. In addition, 26 others are presently on trial. One new trial is expected to start in January 2006.