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Appeals Chamber Delivers Judgement in Military II Case

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, composed of Judge Theodor Meron, presiding, Judge Liu Daqun, Judge Carmel Agius, Judge Khalida Rachid Khan, and Judge Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, today pronounced its judgement on the appeals lodged by Augustin Ndindiliyimana, François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, and Innocent Sagahutu, and the Prosecution, reversing the convictions of Ndindiliyimana and Nzuwonemeye in their entirety, reversing certain convictions for Sagahutu, leading to a reduction of his sentence from 20 to 15 years of imprisonment, and rejecting, in part, the Prosecution’s appeal.

Prior to the judgement pronouncement, the Appeals Chamber ordered the severance of the appeal of Augustin Bizimungu and the Prosecution’s appeal related to his case and requested further briefing concerning the Trial Chamber’s failure to make several legal findings when entering convictions.

On 17 May 2011, Trial Chamber II convicted Ndindiliyimana of genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity, and murder as a serious violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II based on attacks at Kansi Parish in Butare Prefecture and Saint André College in Kigali Prefecture in April 1994, and it also entered a separate conviction for murder as a crime against humanity. The Trial Chamber convicted Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu of murder as a crime against humanity and murder as a serious violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II for the killing of the Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and Belgian UNAMIR peacekeepers in Kigali Prefecture on 7 April 1994.

The Appeals Chamber reversed Ndindiliyimana’s convictions based on his superior responsibility over gendarmes who participated in attacks at Kansi Parish and Saint André College, finding errors in the Trial Chamber’s assessment of the evidence and errors in its conclusions that Ndindiliyimana exercised effective control over such gendarmes. Furthermore, the Appeals Chamber found, as the Prosecution conceded on appeal, that nothing supported Ndindilyimana’s conviction for murder as a crime against humanity as the Prosecution had withdrawn allegations in support of it. Consequently, Ndindiliyimana, who had been sentenced to time served by the Trial Chamber, was acquitted of all counts in the indictment.

The Appeals Chamber affirmed Sagahutu’s criminal responsibility for aiding and abetting and as a superior in relation to the killing of at least two Belgian UNAMIR peacekeepers on 7 April 1994, but reversed the Trial Chamber’s finding that he had ordered the killings. The Appeals Chamber further concluded that the Trial Chamber erred in holding Nzuwonemeye responsible as a superior, and reversed his convictions for this event. The Appeals Chamber also found that the Trial Chamber committed errors of law and fact and concluded that neither Nzuwonemeye nor Sagahutu could be held criminally responsible for the killing of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana. Consequently, Nzuwonemeye was acquitted of all counts in the indictment and the Appeals Chamber, Judge Tuzmukhamedov dissenting, ordered his immediate release.

The Appeals Chamber dismissed the Prosecution’s appeal as it related to Ndindiliyimana, Nzuwonemeye, and Sagahutu. During the relevant period, Ndindiliyimana held the rank of major general and, until 5 June 1994, was Chief of Staff of the Rwandan gendarmerie. He was arrested in Belgium on 29 January 2000.

Nzuwonemeye held the rank of major and was the commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion in April 1994, while Sagahutu was the commander of Squadron A within the Reconnaissance Battalion during the same period. Nzuwonemeye was arrested on 15 February 2000 in France, and Sagahutu was apprehended on the same day in Denmark. This judgement brings the total number of appeal judgements rendered by the Tribunal to 40, disposing of appeals concerning 50 persons. The remaining caseload of the ICTR Appeals Chamber consists of five cases which concern 11 persons.

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