07.09.09 - ICTR/APPEALS - ICTR TO HEAR THREE APPEALS THIS MONTH

Arusha, 7 September, 2009 (FH) - The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will on the last three days beginning September 28, commence the hearing of three appeal cases, including that of the brother in-law of the former Rwandan President, Protais Zigiranyirazo.
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Whereas the appeal of Zigiranyirazo is scheduled for hearing on September 28, that of the former Rwandan prosecutor, Simeon Nshamihigo was set for hearing on September 29 and the third, which involves the former Rwandan renowned musician, Simon Bikindi, will be heard on September 30, according to Bocar Sy, ICTR Chief of Press.

On Bikindi's case, the prosecutor appealed against 15-year jail term handed down to the defendant  on December 2, last year saying the defendant deserved heavier penalty  whereas for Nshamihigo was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted for genocide on September 24, 2008.

Both, the Prosecutor and the defence teams in the case of Zigiranyirazo, sentenced to a 20-year jail term on December 18, 2008, appealed against the conviction and the sentence.

In two different notice of appeals filed by the Prosecutor and the defence on 15 and 19 of January, 2009 respectively the parties claimed separately that the trial Chamber erred in the determination of conviction and sentencing based on the events at Kiyovu roadblock in Kigali city and Kesho Hill in Gisenyi, North of Rwanda where several ethnic-Tutsis were slaughtered in April, 1994.

The Prosecutor in his notice of appeal categorically stated that the Trial Chamber erred on the sentences imposed on Zigiranyirazo compelling him to serve them concurrently instead of consecutively.

On December 18, 2008, the appellant was sentenced to 20 years in prison on genocide for his involvement at Kesho hill killings, another 15 years for his acts at the Kiyovu roadblock and for extermination he was sentenced to 20 years, all of which were directed to be served concurrently.

According to the notice of appeal, the Chamber ignored several issues before handing down the sentences including, full responsibility of the accused for the crimes committed, Tribunal's sentencing practice in similar cases and it even failed to give consideration to Rwanda's sentencing framework.

"The relief sought is the reversal of the sentence imposed by the Trial Chamber and the imposition upon Protais Zigiranyirazo of an appropriate sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of his life," pleaded the Prosecutor in his notice of appeal.

On the other hand the defence team alleged that their client was neither the incharge of the Kiyovu roadblock nor did he distribute weapons but rather his involvement was limited to encouraging the participants of the roadblock to check identifications and distribution of food, both of which did not contribute substantially to the killings, according to the defence notice of appeal.

The defence also denied the appellant's participation at the Kesho hill events as in charge of the attack, distributed arms and that the content of his speech could not be ascertained claiming also that he left the scene at the beginning of the attack.

The notice of appeal signed by four members of the defence team, including the lead counsel, Canadian lawyer, John Philpot, prayed that the conviction be turned down and acquit the appellant on all counts, order a new trial or reduce the sentence substantially.

NI/SC/GF

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