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Appeals Chamber Increases Athanase Seromba Sentence to Life Imprisonment

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda today overturned the conviction of Athanase Seromba for aiding and abetting genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity and substituted convictions for committing genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity for his role in the destruction of the church in Nyange Parish causing the death of approximately 1500 Tutsi refugees sheltering inside.

The Appeals Chamber agreed to increase Seromba's sentence from 15 years imprisonment to imprisonment for the remainder of his life. Judge Liu Daqun dissented.

The Appeals Chamber composed of Judges Mohamed Shahabuddeen, presiding, Patrick Robinson, Liu Daqun, Theodor Meron and Wolfgang Schomburg unanimously upheld Athanase Seromba’s conviction for aiding and abetting genocide based on the expulsion of Tutsi refuges and employees from the church, some of whom were subsequently killed. It quashed the finding of the Trial Chamber that Seromba aided and abetted genocide by substantially contributing to serious bodily and mental harm to Tutsi refugees by prohibiting them from getting food from the Nyange Parish banana plantation and by other acts. The Appeals Chamber unanimously dismissed all other grounds of appeal.

Athanase Seromba was a Catholic priest at Nyange parish, Kivumu Commune, Kibuye Prefecture. His trial commenced on 20 September 2004. He was convicted and sentenced by Trial Chamber III in its judgment rendered on 13 December 2006. His appeal, together with that of the Prosecution, was heard in Arusha on 26 November 2007.

At the time of his indictment, Seromba was working as a priest under a false identity in two parishes near Florence, Italy. He was arrested and detained in Arusha after his surrender to the Tribunal on 6 February 2002.

Athanase Seromba is to remain in the UN Detention Facility pending his transfer to the country in which he will serve his sentence.

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