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Convictions of Pastor and Medical Doctor

Gérard Ntakirutimana (45) a medical doctor practicing at the Mugonero Adventist hospital was convicted today of genocide and of crimes against humanity (murder) by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). His father, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana (78), a senior pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Mugonero was convicted of aiding and abetting in genocide.

The unanimous verdict was delivered by Trial Chamber I of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse (Norway), presiding, and Judges Navanethem Pillay (South Africa) and Andrésia Vaz (Senegal). Pastor Ntakirutimana was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment while his son, Gérard was sentenced to imprisonment for twenty five years. In both cases credit was given for the time they have already served on remand in the United States and in Arusha.

The two accused jointly faced two indictments, the “Mugonero” indictment with five counts and the “Bisesero” indictment with seven counts. Both indictments charge the Nktakirutimanas with genocide, in the alternative complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide as well as crimes against humanity. The accused are alleged to have participated in killings, attacks and causing serious bodily and mental harm to a large number of men, women and children who sought refuge in the Mugonero Adventist complex as well as in the area of Bisesero. Both locations are in the Kibuye Prefecture.

In the judgment the Trial Chamber examined in detail all of the Prosecution’s allegations against the accused and found that there was insufficient evidence against either of them on the counts of complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (extermination), crimes against humanity (other inhumane acts) contained in both Indictments, and the count of serious violations of to the Geneva Conventions contained in the Bisesero Indictment.

However the Chamber found that Elizaphan Ntakirutimana had conveyed attackers to Murambi Church and ordered the removal of the church roof so that it could no longer be used as a shelter for the Tutsi. In so doing, he facilitated the hunting down and the killing of the Tutsi refugees hiding in Murambi Church in Bisesero. He also transported armed attackers to various locations to pursue and kill Tutsi and that he participated in vehicle convoys carrying attackers to locations in Bisesero, including Murambi Hill, Kabatwa Hill, Gitwa Hill, Kucyapa, and Nyarutovu Hill. He had thereby participated in the massacres of Tutsi in the area of Bisesero.

With regard to Gérard Ntakirutimana, the Chamber found beyond a reasonable doubt that Gérard Ntakirutimana killed Charles Ukobizaba, a Tutsi accountant at the Mugonero Hospital, by shooting him in the chest from a short distance in the Hospital courtyard at around midday on 16 April 1994. It also found that he shot and killed a person named Esdras during an attack at Gitwe Primary School.

In addition the Chamber established beyond a reasonable doubt that the doctor shot at refugees at Gitwe Hill, Mubuga Primary School, Mutiti Hill and Kidashya Hill, where he also transported attackers. The Chamber also found that Gérard Ntakirutimana took part in attacks on refugees at Murambi Hill and Muyira Hill on various dates.

Subject to any appeal the two convicted persons will serve their sentences in the prisons of one of the countries with which the Tribunal has an agreement for the enforcement of sentences. At present those countries are Mali, Benin and Swaziland. Agreements are under negotiation with other African and European countries.

This judgment was the ninth to be delivered by the ICTR. Ten persons have been convicted and one acquitted. Eight further cases are currently in progress involving twenty accused persons. Six of those cases are at an advanced stage and judgments will be delivered later this year.

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