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Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana convicted of genocide

Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has today sentenced Clement Kayishema to imprisonment for the remainder of his life and Obed Ruzindana to a term of twenty-five years imprisonment following their conviction for crimes of genocide. They were found not guilty on charges of crimes against humanity on the ground that these charges were based upon the same conduct and evidence as the genocide charges and were therefore subsumed by the latter.


Trial Chamber II (composed of Judge William Sekule (Tanzania), presiding, and Judges Yakov Ostrovsky (Russian Federation) and Tafazzal Hossain Khan (Bangladesh) decided:

(1) Unanimously that Clement Kayishema was GUILTY of four counts of genocide and that Obed Ruzindana was GUILTY of one count of genocide;

(2) by a majority (judge Khan dissenting) that the accused Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana were NOT GUILTY of the counts of crimes against humanity (murder and extermination);

The Judgment

In its judgment the Trial Chamber first considers the law relating to the crimes with which the accused are charged, it then proceeds to make various factual findings based upon the evidence submitted to it. Finally it pronounces its legal findings by examining the law as it applies to those facts. The sentences were handed down by a separate order. Judge Khan gave a dissenting opinion on the question of cumulative charges while agreeing with the rest of the judgment.

The Accused

Kayishema was born in 1954 in Gitesi Commune, Kibuye Prefecture, Rwanda. He was trained as a medical doctor and elected prefect of Kibuye in July 1992, a position which he held until his departure to Zaire in July 1994.

Ruzindana, a successful businessman, was born in 1962 in Gisovu Commune, Kibuye Prefecture. His father was a former Bourgmestre (mayor) and the family was well known and respected in the area where they lived.

The Facts

The Chamber first considered but rejected the alibi defences of both accused. Then, having examined the reasons why Tutsis gathered at four specific massacre sites, the Chamber examined the evidence specific to those sites and the role of Kayishema and his subordinates, as well as that of Ruzindana. At three of the sites, namely the Catholic Church and Home Saint Jean Complex in Kibuye, the Kibuye Stadium and Mubuga Church in Gishyita commune, massacres took place between the 15 and 19 of April 1994.

On the basis of evidence from several witnesses at each of those sites, which the Chamber found compelling, the Trial Chamber was satisfied that Kayishema was present at each one of those sites, that he initiated and participated in the killing and that his presence encouraged the assailants to carry out their task with impunity.

In the area of Bisesero the pattern was different. Here the evidence painted a picture of a massive, horrific assault on Tutsis gathered in the area throughout April, May and June 1994. The Chamber found it proven beyond reasonable doubt that, throughout that period both individually and in concert, Kayishema and Ruzindana brought soldiers, police, Interahamwe and civilians to the area and directed them to attack Tutsis there. Kayishema and Ruzindana also personally attacked and killed persons seeking refuge.

Legal Findings

Kayishema was charged with criminal responsibility as a superior. The Trial Chamber found that it was beyond question that the facts clearly reflected his pivotal role in organising and directing the attacks at all four massacre sites. Kayishema not only knew, and failed to prevent, those under his control from slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians; but he orchestrated and invariably led these bloody massacres. He was therefore responsible for the acts of his subordinates, namely the gendarmes, the bourgmestres, police and prison guards.

With regard to genocide, the Trial Chamber found that both accused undertook their criminal deeds with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the Tutsis of Kibuye. Kayishema and his subordinates and Ruzindana intended to kill members of the Tutsi group at the four crime sites. Ruzindana personally participated in the killings that took place in the Bisesero area.

Both accused were charged with several counts of crimes against humanity for murder, extermination and other inhumane acts. With respect to the crimes of murder and extermination, according to the majority, these were fully subsumed in the crime of genocide. The Prosecution relied upon the same elements and the same culpable conduct to prove these crimes in which the victims were the same. The Chamber therefore found that it would be improper to convict the accused persons for both genocide and crimes against humanity. In this case the three crimes amounted to the same offence.

On this point alone Judge Khan dissented. He found that the charges should have been fully considered and the matters of concurrence dealt with at the sentencing stage.

For information only - Not an official document

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