Arusha, February 19, 2003 (FH) - Lawyers of former Seventh day Adventist pastor, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son, Gerard Ntakirutimana a medical doctor, announced on Wednesday that they were going to appeal a judgement by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) convicting the two of genocide. The pastor and his son were found guilty of genocide earlier on Wednesday and sentenced to 10 and 25 years in jail respectively.

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“It is a tragic miscarriage of justice”, defence counsel for Pastor Ntakirutimana, former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark told reporters shortly after the judgement was read. Reiterating his previous arguments, he said that the trial had been executed in a “biased environment strongly influenced by the government of Rwanda”. Judges of the ICTR however dismissed the argument during their judgement saying that there was no evidence that “the two accused were subject to a campaign of false incrimination”. Defence counsel for Gerard Ntakirutimana, David Jacobs of Canada echoed the remarks of Ramsey Clark. Furthermore, he said that he was convinced that both the pastor and his son were innocent. “We are hopeful that the appeals chamber will recognise the great miscarriage of justice that occurred today”, he added. Pastor Ntakirutimana, 78, was the president of the West Rwanda SeventhDay Adventist (SDA) area at the time of the genocide. He was based at Mugonero SDA complex in Kibuye province. His son, Doctor Ntakirutimana, 45, was a doctor at the SDA hospital in the complex. The two were found guilty of conveying attackers to Mugonero complex to kill hundreds of predominantly ethnic Tutsi men, women and children who had taken refugee in the complex. The refugees were fleeing from attacks by extremist Hutu militias. Doctor Ntakirutimana was also found guilty of at least two murders and direct participation in several attacks in the Bisesero area in Kibuye. The trial began in September 2001 and closed in August, 2002. In their conclusion, judges of Trial Chamber One of the ICTR noted that the pastor “distanced himself from his Tutsi pastors and his flock in the hour of their need” whereas his son, “as a medical doctor, took lives instead of saving them”. At the beginning of the defence case, Pastor Ntakirutimana's lawyer said that the pastor was a man given to “saving souls” whereas his son was dedicated to “saving lives”. ICTR convicts serve their sentences in Mali. Swaziland and Benin have also accepted to host ICTR convicts. The period already spent in detention by pastor Ntakirutimana and his son will be deducted from their sentence. The trial, one of the fastest in ICTR history, was before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of judges Erik Møse of Norway (presiding), Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, and Andrésia Vaz of Senegal. GG/CE/FH (NT'0219f)