Arusha, October 19th, 2000 (FH) - The Appeals Court of the InternationalCriminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday rejected an appeal fromconvicted ex-Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, and confirmed his lifesentence. It threw out all the arguments on which Kambanda had based his appeal, including the claimthat he had been forced to plead guilty against his will.

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"We are pleased with this decision, we feel it is a victory for justiceand for the victims," ICTR spokesman Kingsley Moghalu told Hirondelle fromThe Hague, Netherlands, where the decision was announced. "It sends amessage that people in power should not abuse their authority and that ifthey do, they will not go unpunished. "Jean Kambanda was Prime Minister of the Rwandan interim government whichheaded the country during the 1994 genocide. He was sentenced to lifeimprisonment on September 4th, 1998, after pleading guilty to genocide andcrimes against humanity. But in February this year, Kambanda asked toretract his guilty plea. He said the Appeals Court should overturn theTrial Court's verdict and order a full trial. In a hearing before the Appeals Court on June 27th, Kambanda claimed thathe had been forced to plead guilty against his will. But the Appeals Courtsaid it was satisfied that the guilty plea had been voluntary, informed andunequivocal. The Appeals judges said they were satisfied that "the Trial Court judgeshad indeed satisfied themselves that his plea met the aforementionedcriteria" and that Jean Kambanda "given his intellectual and professionalabilities was capable of understanding the consequences of the crimes hehad admitted committing". The Court also rejected Kambanda's claim that he had been denied the rightto a lawyer of his choice, and said this was not in any case automatic forthose receiving legal assistance. If Kambanda was unhappy with his lawyer,the Court said, he had ample time to complain but did not do so. Judges of the Appeals Court also rejected Kambanda's argument that he wasunlawfully detained. They said that again, if he was unhappy with hisdetention conditions he could have complained earlier. An order was also read out from Tribunal President Judge NavanethemPillay, under which Kambanda will remain in detention in The Hague until heis transferred to his permanent place of detention. Moghalu told Hirondelle that this would be in one of the three countriesthat has signed an agreement with the Tribunal to provide prison space forRwandan genocide convicts. They are Mali, Benin and Swaziland. JC/FH (KM%1019e)