Arusha, 19 December 2008 (FH) - The judgment of Theoneste Bagosora and his three co-defendants, former officials of the Rwandan army in 1994, should become one of the bases of the legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as for its impact as well as its measure.

1 min 46Approximate reading time

After having convicted the majority of the ministers of the interim government, including their leader, then those who they had found responsible for the media, the ICTR judges convicted Thursday in first instance the soldiers. They should, next year, try to finish trials with some of the politicians.

But these judges still refuse to follow the prosecution in its will to clearly convict common criminal intent, this famous "conspiracy to commit genocide", a component that they have been fighting for since the first judgment pronounced in 1998.

Measured as he has been in the 10 judgments which he has pronounced since he has presided a Chamber, Judge Erik Mose took care to remind that a criminal trial "cannot depict the entire picture of what happened in Rwanda". 410 days of hearings spread out over more than five years, 30 000 pages of transcripts, 1 600 pieces of evidences and 4 500 pages of conclusions will help, in spite of everything, to clarify history.

Bagosora, contrary to the image grossly perpetrated by successive prosecutors, is not the "mastermind" of the genocide. Before him, and undoubtedly with him, politicians, journalists, racketeers, set up a strategy of the hatred which exploded on 7 April following the attack against the plane of President Habyarimana. For the United Nations, a voluntarily passive witness, 800 000 people, Tutsis but also Hutus opponents to the regime in place, were killed during these three months.

"The evidence is also consistent with preparations for a political or military power struggles and measures adopted in the context of an on-going war with the RPF that were used for other purposes from 6 April 1994", said to be black and white in the summary of the judgment. The document itself, more than 500 pages, is in the course of being finalized.

In this document, the judges affirm, however, that the murders and the military operations carried out shortly after the attack could only have been done on "orders from superior military authorities". Bagosora, they reminded, was "the highest authority in the ministry of defence and exercised effective control over the Rwandan army and gendarmerie". This affirmation will be at the heart of his appeal.

Often criticized for its inefficiency, its slowness, its inaccuracies, its awkwardness, the ICTR will leave with this judgment a fundamental document even if, said the judgment, the Chamber was "narrowed by exact standards of evidence and procedures as well as its focus on the four accused and the specific evidence placed before in this case


© Hirondelle News Agency