Arusha, October 31, 2000 (FH) - Prosecutors on Tuesday asked the Appeals Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to find former prefect Clément Kayishema and businessman Obed Ruzindana guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes as well as genocide, and to increase Ruzindana's 25-year prison sentence to life. "The Trial Chamber erred when it considered Kayishema more culpable than Ruzindana," prosecutor Zhu Wen-gi of China told the court.

1 min 40Approximate reading time

"According to the facts as found by the Trial Chamber, the conduct of both was so horribly widespread and sustained that no meaningful distinction is possible. […] Even if Kayishema was considered superior to Ruzindana, it does not necessarily flow that Kayishema deserves more punishment. It must depend on the gravity of the crime. The Prosecutor believes that the only possible sentence that could reflect Ruzindana's crimes is life. "Life imprisonment is the maximum sentence that the ICTR can impose, unlike in Rwanda where courts can impose a death sentence. Many people in Rwanda felt that the sentence on Ruzindana was too light. Kayishema and Ruzindana were convicted on May 21st, 1999, after a joint trial. Kayishema was found guilty on four counts of genocide and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ruzindana was found guilty on one count of genocide, and sentenced to 25 years. The court said it wanted to differentiate between the different levels of responsibility of the two men, as Kayishema was a government official whilst Ruzindana held no position of authority. Prosecutors are also appealing that the two should have been found guilty of murder and extermination as crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as genocide. Kayishema was indicted on 24 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions, while Ruzindana was indicted on six. Belgian prosecutor Sonja Bolaert-Suominen said the Trial Chamber had found the two men guilty of murder and extermination but had considered that the crimes against humanity charges were absorbed by genocide. However, she cited case law from the ICTR and International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to argue that the Trial Chamber had erred. She said boththe ICTR's judgement on Jean-Paul Akayesu (former Rwandan mayor, convicted for life in 1998) and the ICTY's on Dusko Tadic (Serb war criminal) showed that an accused could be convicted of as many crimes as he was found guilty of, and that if they were concurrent, this was "best dealt with at sentencing". "It is important to render a verdict which reflects the totality of the criminality," she told the court, adding that genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes had been introduced into international law "to answer the needs of different societal interests". JC/FH (KY%1031e)