UN tribunal clears two Rwandans accused of genocide, crimes against humanity

17 November 2009

The United Nations-backed tribunal tasked with trying atrocities committed during the 1994 Rwandan massacre of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus today acquitted a priest who had been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, a day after it did the same in the case of the brother-in-law of the country’s former president.

The United Nations-backed tribunal tasked with trying atrocities committed during the 1994 Rwandan massacre of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus today acquitted a priest who had been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, a day after it did the same in the case of the brother-in-law of the country’s former president.

Judges presiding at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) ordered the immediate release of Hormisdas Nsengimana – accused of being a leader in “Les Dragons” or “Escadrons de la Mort” (“Death Squad”) – from the ICTR detention centre in Arusha, Tanzania.

During the genocide, Mr. Nsengimana was a rector of the prestigious Catholic school, Collège Christ-Roi in Nyanza. He was also alleged to be at the centre of the extremist Hutu gang that planned and carried out targeted attacks in and around the school and other parts of the region.

The Trial Chamber said the Prosecution failed to establish the factual and legal basis to convict Mr. Nsengimana for criminal responsibility in the deaths of several Tutsi priests, a judge, and many other Tutsi victims. Insufficient evidence was presented to the Court to find him guilty of establishing and supervising three roadblocks in the vicinity of Christ-Roi, mounted to intercept and eliminate Tutsis.

Yesterday, the ICTR also acquitted and released Protais Zigiranyirazo, brother-in-law of the former Rwandan President, after a successful appeal to overturn his conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity.

The Appeals Chamber found several serious factual and legal errors in the Trial Chamber’s assessment of Mr. Zigiranyirazo’s alibis, in relation to both events on which his convictions were based.

 

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