24.06.09 - ICTR/MILITARY II – ‘NO NEED TO PRODUCE A WRITTEN DOCUMENT TO PROVE CONSPIRACY’

Arusha, 24 June 2009 (FH) - The Office of Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) stated Wednesday at the beginning of its closing arguments in the "Military II" trial that it was not obliged to produce a "written agreement" signed by the alleged conspirators to prove its theory of conspiracy in order to commit genocide.
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The trial involves the former chiefs of staff of the army and the gendarmerie, Generals Augustin Bizimungu and Augustin Ndindiliyimana, respectively as well as the former commander of the reconnaissance battalion, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, who commanded a squadron of this elite unit.

"It can happen that this agreement (in order to commit genocide) is tacit (...), there is no need for a written agreement, the partisans of the agreement could not even know each other; what is essential is to adhere to a project which aims at committing genocide", added Alphonse Van.

"The prosecutor was not able to find such a document (an agreement between conspirators). Even when Hitler ordered to kill the Jews, there was no written agreement", stated the Ivorian attorney.

Until now, nobody at the ICTR has been found guilty of an agreement in order to commit genocide, the most serious crime brought forth by the prosecutor in several cases, especially those involving very high ranking civil and military officials.

"The proof of the agreement (in the case of Rwanda) is circumstantial; it is deduced from the facts. There was genocide; the Appeals Chamber (ICTR) took judicial notice of genocide. It is necessary to go beyond (...) to reverse this situation of genocide without instigator", pleaded Van.

"This Tribunal has convicted several people for genocide, but what is curious is that until now we do not yet know who planned this genocide", said an indignant representative of the prosecutor, inviting the Chamber "to change this jurisprudence".

"The intention of the agreement is the same as that of the crime of genocide", stated Van, while indicating to have proven the participation of each one of the defendants to this agreement in order to commit the genocide perpetrated against Tutsis in 1994.

"Mr. President, all was prepared, all was well prepared against Tutsis", he repeated more than once, by giving notably as evidence the speed of the massacres, their "methodical and precise" character.

"That is why we have decided to prosecute these officers", he added. The prosecution has sought for imprisonment for remainder of their lives for the defendants.

On Thursday and Friday, the defence teams will present their final arguments.

The verdict is expected next year.

This lawsuit,  which is among the most important in the history of the ICTR, opened in September 2004.

ER/MM/SC/GF

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