Arusha, 22 June, 2009 (FH)-The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday handed down a 30 years sentence on the former Rwandan Acting Interior Minister, Callixte Kalimanzira, for his role in the 1994 genocide, specifically for the killings of thousands of ethnic Tutsis at the Kabuye Hill, Butare, southern Rwanda.

2 min 10Approximate reading time

Rendering the judgement before a packed crowd, presiding Judge, Justice Dennis Byron, stated that the Chamber concluded that on 23 April, 1994, Kalimanzira came to Kabuye Hill with soldiers and policemen.

"The Tutsi refugees had successfully repelled attacks with sticks and stones until that day, but they could not resist the bullets. With significantly more civilian attackers on the ground, the Saturday attack proved successful and the Tutsi refugees were killed in the thousands, resulting in an enormous human tragedy."

He added that Kalimanzira's role in luring Tutsis to Kabuye Hill and his subsequent assistance in providing armed reinforcements substantially contributed to the overall attack. "The Chamber finds Kalimanzira guilty beyond reasonable doubt of aiding and abetting genocide at Kabuye Hill," stressed Justice Byron in his one hour-judgement,  which was also attended by the accused in blue-smart suit and looked composed initially but certainly was distressed during the final moments of the pronouncement.

The Chamber also accepted evidence that the accused criticized those in attendance at the Gisagara marketplace for being unarmed and told that they had not completely defeated the enemy.

"The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from this evidence is that Kalimanzira intended to incite the crowd to carry weapons in order to kill Tutsi civilians."

Before deciding on the sentence, the Justice Byron said that the Chamber took into consideration Kalimanzira's prominence and high-standing in Butare society as a former sous-prefect and the fact that he was one of only three people from his area and generation to have received a university education.

"He was loved and appreciated for his efforts at empowering his community by agriculturally developing his native region, "he said, adding that the accused derived from this and his important status within the Interior Ministry made it likely that others would follow his example. "...he abused the public's trust," stated the Chamber in a 14-page summary judgement.

As for mitigating circumstances, the Chamber noted that Kalimanzira's actions did not evidence any particular zeal or sadism.

"He did not personally kill anyone and only remained at the [killing] sites for brief periods," noted the three-bench judges. The Chamber also took into consideration the voluntary surrender of Kalimanzira to the Tribunal and who lived openly prior to his arrest.

He will also received the credit of about four years that he had been in detention, pending the judgement.

Kalimanzira, an agronomist by training, was during the closing stages of the1994 genocide, Acting Interior Minister.

This judgement - one of the fastest in the ICTR's 15 year history - follows that of Priest Emmanuel Rukundo, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in February.

The UN Tribunal, set up to try key suspects of the 1994 genocide, has so fat convicted 38 persons and acquitted six.

The Kalimanzira trial opened on 5 May 2008. The prosecutor rested his case on 30 June 2008 after having called 24 witnesses.

The defence rested its case on 11 February, 2009 at the end of the testimony of the defendant, the 43rd and last defence witness.

Kalimanzira surrendered to the Tanzanian authorities in November 2005 from neighbouring Kenya, where he lived with his family.


© Hirondelle News Agency