Michel Bagaragaza, former Director General of the office controlling the Rwandan tea industry during the period of the genocide, was today convicted of one count of complicity in genocide and sentenced to a prison term of 8 years with credit for the time he has spent in detention since his arrest on 15 August 2005.The sentencing took place in Trial Chamber III before Judges Vagn Joensen, presiding, Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov and Gberdao Gustave Kam.
The Trial Chamber found him guilty of the charge for having substantially contributed to the killings of more than one thousand Tutsi who sought refuge at Kesho Hill and at Nyundo Cathedral. It also found that he aided and abetted the planners and principal perpetrators of the killings, including military and civilian leaders and members of the Interahamwe militia, members of the Presidential Guard, military personnel, and the staff of Rubaya and Nyabitu Tea Factories.
Bagaragaza was initially charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, and in the alternative, complicity in genocide. Another charge was later added to the indictment. On 15 August 2005, Bagaragaza voluntarily surrendered to the Tribunal and made his first initial appearance the next day where he pleaded not guilty to each of the three counts set forth in the Initial Indictment.
After failed attempts to transfer the case to a national jurisdiction and to proceed with the case before the Tribunal on the basis of an initial guilty plea agreement between Bagaragaza and the Prosecution, the Parties filed another guilty plea agreement in August of this year. This time the Trial Chamber accepted it after being satisfied that Bagragaza’s acceptance of the plea agreement was made freely and voluntarily and that it was informed and unequivocal.
During the sentencing, Judge Joensen stated that, “[Bagaragaza] in his public address to the Court has shown genuine remorse for his actions and has provided invaluable assistance to the Prosecution in its investigations.” Bagaragaza was represented by Counsel Geert-Jan Alexander Knoops from The Netherlands while the Prosecution was led by Mr. Wallace Kapaya assisted by Mr. Patrick Gabaake, Mr. Mousa Sefon and Mr. Iskander Ismal.