Arusha, July 5, 2002 (FH) - The prosecution in the case of former militia leader Georges Rutaganda on Friday presented a motion to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR's) Appeal Chamber that the accused be found guilty of war crimes. Rutaganda, convicted in December 1999 for genocide crimes and crimes against humanity was however, found not guilty of war crimes by ICTR's Trial Chamber One, which heard his case.

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In its appeal, the prosecution said that the Trial Chamber erred in finding Rutaganda not guilty of war crimes. The prosecution team in this hearing comprises of Canadian, Norman Farrell, Danish, Mathias Marcussen, Australian, Helen Brady and Norul Rashid of Singapore. Farrell underlined that Rutaganda was a leader of the Interahamwe (militia); he exercised control over them, ordered them to kill, distributed weapons to them and drove them to massacre sites. The prosecution also stated that Rutaganda participated in the massacres himself as an act of war, during the 1994 events in Rwanda. Rutaganda was second Vice-President of the mainly Hutu Interahamwe militia, which is believed to have spearheaded the genocide in which around one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. The Tribunal found Rutaganda guilty on three out of the eight counts against him and sentenced him to life for genocide and crimes against humanity. Judges Claude Jorda, of France (presiding), Mohamed Shahabuddeen of Guyana, Mehmet Guney of Turkey, Fausto Pocar of Italy and Theodor Meron of America are hearing the appeal. The prosecution argued that the Interahamwe was not a youth wing of the MRND (political party) but people trained to kill Tutsis and to help the Rwandan government army in its fight against the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels who were fighting against the government of the day. According to the prosecution, Tutsis who were arrested at roadblocks and massacred were suspected to be rebel accomplices and the Trial Chamber erred in rejecting this theory. Rutaganda's defence counsel, Canadians, David Jacobs and David Paciocco urged the Chamber to reject the prosecution appeal saying "there is no evidence of his position of authority and that was the gap in the prosecution case. " There was no evidence of Rutaganda having received any military training himself, and no evidence of him training any militia, defence maintained. The defence also said that some evidence presented by the prosecution concerning allegations of training was hearsay and "highly speculative". The counsel also told the court the prosecution failed to distinguish between the Interahamwe of the MRND (youth wing) before April 6th, 1994 and after April 6th, 1994 when the term was used as propaganda and generalized all who were opposed to the RPF. The defence maintained that after April 6th, the Interahamwe disintegrated and was lacking in organisational structure and that even the evidence of some prosecution witnesses, notably Belgian Professor Filip Reyntjens, showed this. There was no proof that Rutaganda gave orders to these militia, Jacobs stressed. Rutaganda's defence also said that the Trial Chamber had erred in considering the conflict in Rwanda as an internal one and not an international conflict. Jacobs argued that another country - Uganda - was used as a base by the RPF to launch attacks against Rwanda and that some of the RPF rebels had military ranks in Uganda which they maintained, even up to 1994. Jacobs said that the RPF members attacking Rwanda were members of the Ugandan National Resistance Army (NRA) and that this made the conflict in Rwanda an international one. Both parties completed their arguments before the Appeals Chamber. SW/DO/FH (RU-0705e)