Arusha, 29 September, 2009 (FH) - The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Tuesday heard a total of 36 grounds of appeal filed by the former Rwandan Deputy Prosecutor, Simeon Nshamihigo, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in September 2008.

1 min 38Approximate reading time

The appellant was convicted on four accounts of genocide, crimes against humanity (murder), crimes against humanity (extermination) and crimes against humanity on other inhuman acts on September 24, 2008.

Denis Turcutte, Canadian lead defence counsel for the appellant, told a five-man Appeals Chamber, led by Judge Patrick Robison from Jamaica, that the lower court erred in law and facts in its judgment and requested the convictions overturned; enter acquittal on all counts; and order his immediate release.

Among issues he extensively argued before the Chamber included the prosecutor's action to amend the indictment several times in the course of trial which according to him complicated the defence work.

‘'We have been prejudiced by the frequent amendments of the indictment,'' counsel Turcutte lamented, while citing some inconsistence between one indictment and the other.

The appellant defence also pointed out that the court of first instance committed errors by accepting part of the testimony of several accomplice witnesses stating that their testimonies ‘'were believed beyond reasonable doubts.''

In response to the defence submissions, the prosecution led by George Mugwanya and Madeleine Schwarz, separately argued that there were no errors in both, the amendments of the indictments and the Chambers assessment on the accomplice witness as judges were professionals and were capable of choosing the right from the wrong.

‘'Judges were very much alive  and cautious about the evidence given by accomplice witnesses and found that they were credible,'' insisted counsel Mugwanya in his submission.

 Given the last chance, the appellant maintained that he was innocent and was wrongly arrested and prosecuted.

‘'I did not kill anyone but saved lives,''  Nshamihigo emphasized after revealing that he personally rescued about 1,000 ethnic Tutsis from Kamarampaka Stadium in Cyangugu prefecture, south-western, Rwanda from being slaughtered.

The hearing was concluded paving way for another hearing of the appeal case of the former Rwandan famous singer, Simon Bikindi, on Wednesday.

Nshamihigo, 49, who has been on trial since 25 September 2006, is accused of having organized massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu prefecture, his native region. 

The accused was arrested in 2001 at the ICTR premises after he was discovered working at the United Nations court under a false name. He was going by the name of Sammy Bahati Weza, claiming to be a Congolese citizen instead of a Rwandan.


© Hirondelle News Agency