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Tea factory director convicted of genocide

Alfred Musema was sentenced to life imprisonment having been convicted of one count of genocide and two counts of crimes against humanity by Trial Chamber I of the ICTR, composed of Judge Lennart Aspegren, presiding, and Judges LaV ty Kama and Navanethem Pillay. He was found not guilty on six other counts.

Musema, now aged 50, was the Director of an important tea factory at Gisovu in Kibuye Prefecture in the west of Rwanda. The Prosecutor alleged that on various occasions during April, May and June 1994 he transported armed attackers, including employees of the factory, to different locations in Gisovu and Gishyita communes and ordered them to attack people seeking refuge there. He also personally took part in such attacks and killed people. The indictment against Musema was later amended to include charges that he committed various acts of rape and that he ordered and encouraged others to rape and kill Tutsi women.

In his defence Musema put particular emphasis on his alibi, presenting evidence that at the times and dates concerned he was elsewhere. He also challenged the reliability of the prosecution evidence and witnesses.

With regard to certain of the allegations concerning specific attacks the Trial Chamber found that either the evidence presented was not sufficient or that Musema’s alibi cast doubt on the Prosecution evidence. He was however found to have participated in attacks on Gitwa hill, Rwirambo hill, Muyira hill and at Mpura during late-April and mid-May and his alibi for that period was not accepted. In one such attack on a group of 300-400 Tutsis seeking refuge in a cave, he ordered that the entrance to the cave be sealed with wood and set on fire. Only one person survived that attack. The Chamber also found that Musema had raped a woman named Nyiramusugi and, by his example, encouraged others to rape her.

As for the question whether these acts were committed with genocidal intent the Chamber found that the context of the acts, anti-Tutsi slogans and other humiliating utterances demonstrated that the objective of Musema and other attackers was the destruction of the Tutsis.

The Chamber thus found that Musema incurred individual criminal responsibility for genocide for having ordered and, by his presence and participation, aided and abetted in the murder of members of the Tutsi ethnic group. He also bore superior responsibility for those acts carried out by employees of the tea factory over whom he had control.

Those findings were also the basis for Musema’s conviction for crime against humanity (extermination). However, on the basis that an accused person cannot be convicted of two offences in relation to the same facts where one offence is a lesser offence and is included in the other, Musema was acquitted of complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crime against humanity (murder).

Judges Aspegren and Pillay each gave separate opinions in which they disagreed with certain factual and legal findings of the majority while concurring with the verdict and the sentence.

Musema was arrested in Switzerland in February 1995. His trial opened on 25 January 1999 and finished on 28 June 1999 after 39 days of hearings during which 30 witnesses were heard and 182 documents submitted in evidence. Alfred Musema was represented by Stephen Kay, Q.C. of the English Bar and by Michail Wladimiroff of the Netherlands Bar. This trial was the first to benefit from changes to the Tribunal’s rules aimed at speeding up trial procedures.

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