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Kayishema/Ruzindana trial draws to a close

The joint trial of Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana is close to completion as the Prosecution concluded its closing argument yesterday, 27 October and the Defence began its own summation today. The trial is taking place in Trial Chamber 2 (Judges William Sekule, presiding, Yakov Ostrovsky, and Tafazzal H. Khan).

Mr. Kayishema, 44, is a former Prefect (Governor) of Kibuye region in Rwanda and a medical doctor. He is charged with 24 counts of crimes consisting of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity (Murder, Extermination, Other Inhumane Acts) and Violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II thereto.

Mr. Ruzindana, 39, a native of Kibuye and a relatively wealthy former businessman based in Kigali, is charged with six counts of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity (Murder, Extermination and Other Inhumane Acts) and Violations of the Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocol II.

In its summation, the Prosecution argued that Dr. Kayishema planned, ordered and committed the mass killings of about 15,000 Rwandans of Tutsi ethnicity in various churches, hospitals, stadiums and schools located in Kibuye between April and July 1994. Tutsis in Kibuye had taken refuge at these locations when the massacres began. On several occasions, acting in concert with Obed Ruzindana, Kayishema allegedly killed the victims himself with guns, machetes and other weapons. The Prosecution recalled the testimony of its witnesses throughout the trial, as well as other evidence, in support of its case, arguing that Kayishema committed these crimes with the intent to destroy the Tutsis as a group. An important aspect of the Prosecution's case was the scientific evidence of findings from the exhumation of a mass grave by the Tribunal's forensic experts.

Regarding Mr. Ruzindana, the Prosecution argued that, when the Rwandan civil war began in 1994, the accused, who had previously visited his native Kibuye on a regular basis, returned to settle in the region, but this time with a different agenda: the plan to kill Tutsis. For this purpose, Mr. Ruzindana allegedly joined ranks with Dr. Kayishema and others to hunt down and kill the Tutsis of Kibuye. "Obed Ruzindana ... changed from a respected businessman to a butcher of innocent civilians", the Prosecution said in its closing brief. Ruzindana is alleged to have ordered several massacres in Kibuye and to have directly shot and hacked to death several victims himself, using various tricks to flush out from hiding those who had survived previous attacks. On one occasion, Ruzindana allegedly met with the Interhamwe militia and asked them how much more time it would take to exterminate the Tutsis.

Concluding its case, the Prosecution cited the legal precedents established by the two previous verdicts of the ICTR in The Prosecutor v Jean-Paul Akayesu (the first judgement by an international criminal tribunal for the crime of genocide) and The Prosecutor v Jean Kambanda, as well as the decisions of the International Military Tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo which judged German and Japanese persons accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes between 1946 and 1949.

The Prosecution requested the Judges of Chamber 2 to find the accused persons Kayishema and Ruzindana guilty of all the crimes in their indictment. "Kibuye Prefecture is, unfortunately, one of the most poignant examples of Genocide in this century", said the Prosecution team during their presentation. [It is estimated that more than 200,000 people were killed in Kibuye during the genocide].

In a separate Sentencing Brief submitted and argued by the Prosecution as part of its summation, it asked the Trial Chamber to impose a sentence of life imprisonment for each count of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity on which the accused were found guilty, and a sentence of 20 to 30 years in prison for each count of Violations of the Geneva Conventions on which guilt was established.

The Defence began wrapping up its own case today with an oral argument by Mr. Pascal Besnier, counsel for Obed Ruzindana. Defense counsel Besnier stated in his argument that he would not address the question as to whether or not genocide occurred in Rwanda. "Counsel for the Defence does not wish to play the role of a historian or political analyst", he told Chamber 2. The Defence submitted that the accused did not participate in the commission of the crimes with which he was charged and that he was not present at the sites of the killings. Embarking on a legal analysis of the indictment against the accused, Mr. Besnier argued that, for the crime of genocide, the Prosecution must prove that the accused had a specific intent. "The scale of killings alone does not prove genocide; the existence of a specific motive must also be established. It is this ingredient, and not the number of people killed, which characterizes the crime of genocide", Ruzindanda's lawyer argued. Mr. Besnier submitted that the Prosecutor had not proven Obed Ruzindana's specific intent to destroy, wholly or partially, the Tutsi ethnic group.

The defence lawyers will continue their closing arguments tomorrow.

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