Trial Chamber II today sentenced Juvenal Rugambarara, the former Mayor of Bicumbi commune in Kigali-Rural Prefecture, to 11 years in prison on his own plea of guilty to a single count of extermination as a crime against humanity.
Delivering its verdict, the Trial Chamber composed of Judges Asoka de Silva, presiding, Taghrid Hikmet and Seon Ki Park said the sentence shall run as of the date of the judgement and that Rugambara was entitled to credit for the time he spent in detention since his arrest on 11 August 2003.
The Trial Chamber explained that it had taken into consideration the aggravating and mitigating circumstances in reaching the verdict. The aggravating factors include the magnitude of the deaths of Tutsi civilians in Bicumbi commune as a result of the crime for which Rugambarara had pleaded guilty to. The mitigating factors include remorse evinced by the accused and his public expression of regret which the Chamber described as sincere.
The Trial Chamber also noted that Rugambarara’s admission of guilty prior to commencement of trial relieved the victims of the need to revisit their traumatic experiences, apart from facilitating the efficient administration of justice and saving the Tribunal’s resources. Also noted was Rugambarara’s assistance of Tutsi refugees, as per the testimony of five witnesses, his good character before the 1994 genocide and his good behaviour during his detention.
On 13 July 2007, the accused entered the guilty plea following two years of negotiations with the Office of the Prosecutor, leading to an agreement on 13 June 2007 in which the Prosecutor agreed to withdraw eight of the original nine counts confirmed against the accused. He was then found guilty of extermination because he failed, in his capacity as Mayor, to take necessary and reasonable measures to commission an investigation into the crimes committed in the commune and for the apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators.
Rugambarara was arrested in Uganda on 11 August 2003 and transferred to the Tribunal on 13 August 2003. He made his initial appearance before the Trial Chamber on 15 August 2003 and pleaded not guilty to all nine counts charging him with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, three counts of crimes against humanity (extermination, torture, rape) and two counts of serious violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and to Additional Protocol II.
The Accused was born in 1959 in Bumba secteur, Tare commune, Kigali-Rural Prefecture. He lived most of his adult life in Bicumbi commune where he worked as a medical officer. He was appointed Mayor of Bicumbi commune on 4 August 1993 and served from 16 September 1993 until 20 April 1994.
The Prosecution team was led by Charles Adeogun-Phillips (Nigeria/UK) who led the negotiations in two previous guilty pleas. The Accused is represented by a defence team led by Mr. Maroufa Diabira (Mauritania).