29.11.07 - ICTR/MEDIAS - JUSTICE DOUBTFUL IN CONVICTING NAHIMANA (LAWYER)

Arusha, 29 November 2007 (FH) - "Justice opened an eye but it remained partially blind" in convicting Ferdinand Nahimana to 30 years in prison after having acquitted him of the majority of the charges against him, stated Thursday his lawyer.
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Nahimana, founder of the Radio Télévision Libre des Mille collines (RTLM) was convicted for his responsibility as a senior ranking official on the radio starting 6 April 1994, date on which he no longer exerted any role, according to his French lawyer Jean-Marie Biju- Duval. "There is an extraordinary paradox", estimated the lawyer in an interview with the Hirondelle agency.

This conviction, according to him, "marks the end of a certain right of evidence before international justice". "There was the idea that there was a right of evidence inherited from Common law (legal system mainly used before international courts) the protection barriers have been removed one after another", said Biju Duval, main counsel of Nahimana since 1996.

The Rwandan historian was convicted for not having done anything in order to stop the inflammatory shows of the RTLM after 6 April 1994, as he had, according to the judgment, an authority on the personnel of the radio station. According to the lawyer, "Nahimana was convicted on the weakest point of the prosecutor's thesis". "The hierarchical responsibility is not the power of influence", he reminded. According to him, "it must be established within the framework of a chain of command, it must fall under a hierarchy with an effective control".

In acquitting Nahimana of the majority of the charges that he faced (genocide, crime against humanity - extermination, agreement to commit genocide) justice "opened an eye but it remained blind", said Biju Duval. In connection with the reduced sentence of 30 years in prison, the lawyer declared: "you will not find any decision of the international courts convicting somebody to 30 years for omission".

In addition to Nahimana, two other appellants were convicted by the appeals chamber, which delivered its judgment Wednesday. Jean Bosco Barayagwiza saw his sentenced reduced from 35 to 32 years and the sentence of Hassan Ngeze went from life in prison to 35 years.

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