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Tribunal Sentences Nzabirinda to Seven Years Imprisonment

Trial Chamber II of the ICTR today sentenced former Youth Organiser of Ngoma Commune, Joseph Nzabirinda nickname ‘Biroto’ to seven years imprisonment. Nzabirinda was given credit for the time spent in detention since his arrest on 21 December 2001. Nzabirinda was charged with one count of murder as crime against humanity.

On 14 December 2006, following a plea agreement signed with the Prosecutor two days earlier, Joseph Nzabirinda pleaded guilty to one count of murder as crime against humanity, as an accomplice by omission. The Trial Chamber accepted his guilty plea. In the initial indictment of 6 December 2001 Nzabirinda was charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity and rape as a crime against humanity. In his initial appearance of 27 March 2002 the accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

For the purpose of sentencing the accused, the Chamber, composed of Judges Arlette Ramaroson, presiding, William Sekule and Solomy Balungi Bossa, considered as aggravating factors: the fact that Nzabirinda was an educated person and the fact that Nzabirinda abused his moral authority over the youth and population of his commune as he was held in high esteem due to his positions as Youth Organiser and successful businessman.

The Chamber considered as mitigating factors: his guilty plea together with his public expression of remorse; his family situation as a married man with children; his good character prior to the events of 1994, the lack of criminal records; and his assistance either moral, financial or material, to certain Tutsi victims. The Chamber disregarded the accused’s offer to co-operate with the Prosecutor as there had been no actual co-operation thus far and other alleged mitigating circumstances.

Nzabirinda is represented by Francois Roux and Jean Haguma, whereas the Prosecution was led by Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Prosecutor and William Egbe, Senior Trial Attorney. Nzabirinda was born in 1957, in Sahera secteur, Butare prefecture, and was arrested in Brussels on 21 December 2001 and transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility on 20 March 2002.

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