Arusha, January 27, 2000 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday sentenced former Rwandan tea factory boss Alfred Musema to life imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape. "Musema personally led attackers to attack large numbers of Tutsi refugees and raped a young Tutsi woman," said Swedish presiding judge Lennart Aspegren, reading the judgement.

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"He knowingly and consciously participated in the commission of crimes, and never showed remorse for his personal role in the commission of the atrocities. "Musema was director of the state-owned tea factory in Gisovu (Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda) at the time of the genocide, which left up to one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead between April and July 1994. He has been convicted of leading and participating in attacks on Tutsi refugees in the mountainous Bisesero region of Kibuye. He stood impassive as the sentence was read out, having pleaded not guilty to all charges. Musema's British defence lawyer, Steven Kay, told Hirondelle that he would be appealing the judgement. "We put forward a case that was for the acquittal of Mr Musema on all charges, and in the light of the fact that he was not acquitted of all charges but convicted of three, we shall be launching an appeal. "Kay's arguments rested heavily on alibi. In the course of the trial, Musema's defence team showed the court various documents including letters, bills and orders to travel, as proof that their client was not in Kibuye prefecture at the time he was accused of committing the crimes. The judges found that the alibi arguments cast doubt on Musema's participation in some of the alleged attacks, but not all. Judges Aspegren and Navanethem Pillay (South Africa) issued separate opinions on their assessment of the alibi evidence. "The alibi was accepted all except for 36 days," Kay told Hirondelle, "and if you look at Judge Aspegren's dissenting judgement, the alibi was accepted by him at least for all except 15 days. "This alibi was completely linked," Kay continued, "and in the middle section of the alibi, the bit that they have disagreed with, we have had extraneous evidence from Europe in the form of letters and witnesses that indicated he was elsewhere. None of these documents originated from Alfred Musema but from other parties who provided them to the defence. " Kay said this would be a central argument in his appeal. Judges Aspegren, Pillay and Laity Kama (Senegal) found Musema guilty of three of the nine charges against him: genocide, crimes against humanity (extermination) and crimes against humanity (rape). However, they threw out two war crimes charges, saying the prosecution had failed to prove the link between Musema's acts and the civil war taking place in Rwanda at the time. The court also found Musema not-guilty of complicity in genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide, saying the prosecutor had failed to prove its case for conspiracy. It threw out the charge of crimes against humanity (murder), saying this was subsumed by the extermination count, and of crimes against humanity (other inhumane acts). "The Chamber finds that the Prosecutor has failed to specify which acts constitute this offence and prove the relevant allegations beyond reasonable doubt," Aspegren said. This is the ICTR's seventh judgement since its creation in 1994, after the genocide in Rwanda. Musema's is the fastest trial so far, having started in January and ended on June 28th, 1999. It was the first to be conducted under new rules, designed to speed up Tribunal procedures. Musema was arrested in Switzerland on February 11th, 1995. His case was first handled by the judicial authorities of the Swiss military, until the ICTR requested his transfer to Arusha. JC/FH (MU%0127e)