Breaking news – acquittals at the Rwanda Tribunal


International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

A fairly significant development this morning — the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda delivered its judgment in the “Government II” case, an important case involving four ministerial level officials. The Trial Chamber convicted Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza of conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement and sentenced to 30 years.  But, in a blow to the Office of the Prosecutor the Trial Chamber acquitted Casimir Bizimungu and Jérôme-Clément Bicamumpaka outright and ordered their immediate release. Here is a summary of the judgment.

The Gov II trial has been notorious for its sluggish pace. The trial began in 2003 and took five years to complete. The Trial Chamber took three years to issue its decision. During that time, a judge, prosecutor and defense counsel assigned to the case all passed away.

The full judgment has not yet been released, but the summary references a number of fair trial issues with the trial.


One Response to “Breaking news – acquittals at the Rwanda Tribunal”

  1. David says:

    Two notable passages from the judgment summary.

    “Prosecution evidence about this meeting [where genocidal killing was incited] was credible. However…Bicamumpaka was materially prejudiced by the Prosecution’s failure to sufficiently give notice of this allegation.”

    “Two prosecution witnesses presented generally compelling evidence…However, the Chamber is not prepared to make findings on this evidence due to the Prosecution’s failure to promptly disclose exculpatory material… The Chamber … will not consider it as a basis for conviction.”

    Ouch. I’ll be interested in reading the full judgment to get a better idea of the violations. But one wonders how serious the violations were for the Chamber to disregard culpable evidence in a genocide case?

    Lastly, this decision is yet another example of how three judge panels work. They do not rubber stamp convictions and they strive to deliver fair trials. Of the case completed through appeal, there are 38 convictions, 8 acquittals. That is a 79% conviction rate, compared to the US Attorneys who boast of a 95% conviction rate.

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