Georges Anderson Nderubumwe Rutaganda was today sentenced to imprisonment for life following his conviction on one count of Genocide and of two counts of Crimes against Humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Trial Chamber I composed of Judges Laïty Kama, presiding, Lennart Aspegren and Navanethem Pillay unanimously found that Rutaganda incurred individual criminal responsibility in particular for having ordered, incited and carried out murders and for causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the Tutsi ethnic group during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
He was found not guilty on two further counts of crimes against humanity which were based upon the same facts which supported the convictions. Three of the eight charges had not been substantiated by the necessary evidence.
In sentencing him, the Trial Chamber found that the aggravating factors in the case outweighed the mitigating factors in his favour. In particular, he had held a high position in the Interahamwe at the time the crimes were committed. He had knowingly and consciously participated in those crimes and had shown no remorse for what he had inflicted upon the victims.
The events which resulted in Rutaganda's conviction took place during April 1994, at the outbreak of the genocide. In particular, he was found to have distributed firearms and other weapons to Interahamwe members in Kigali on April 8, 15 and 24 1994. On April 11 he took part in an assault led by members of the Presidential Guard and the Interahamwe on the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) in Kicukiro, a suburb of Kigali, where several thousand Tutsis had taken refuge. Hundreds of Tutsis died in that attack.
Survivors of the ETO massacre trying to reach another refuge were surrounded by soldiers and Interahamwe and led to Nyanza, where they were collected and attacked with guns and grenades. Rutaganda was found to have ordered the Interahamwe to surround the refugees just before the massacre. The Chamber found that it was established beyond reasonable doubt that he had been present at and had taken part in the attack at Nyanza. Moreover, by his presence there he had encouraged the commission of crimes by others.
Rutaganda, now aged 41, was a member of an influential family and a prosperous businessman. He was a leading member of the governing MRND party and, at the time of the genocide, was serving as the second Vice-president of the national committee of the Interahamwe, the youth militia of the MRND. He was arrested in October 1995 in Zambia and transferred to the UN Detention Facilities in Arusha on 26 May 1996.
Defence counsel for Rutaganda, Ms Tiphaine Dickson of the Montreal Bar announced that she would appeal against the verdict and the sentence. Today's judgment is the fifth by the ICTR and brings the number of convicted persons to six.
The full text of the judgment is available on the Tribunal’s Website (www.ictr.org) from today.