Arusha, November 20, 2009 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) this week acquitted and ordered the immediate release of two genocide suspects.

1 min 9Approximate reading time

On Monday, the Appeals chamber reversed 20-year sentence imposed on Protais Zigiranyirazo, brother-in-law of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, and instead acquitted him of 1994 genocide charges. The Chamber presided by American Theodor Meron then ordered an immediate release of Zigiranyirazo, popularly known in Rwanda as ‘'Mr Z''.

The upper chamber traced to serious errors committed by the lower court when sentencing the suspect in December 2008.

Tuesday, the ICTR lower court ordered immediate release of former head of College Christ-Roi, Father Hormisdas Nsengimana, 55, after finding him not guilty of 1994 genocide.

In reaching its conclusions, the Chamber stated that it had assessed all the evidence of the prosecution. ‘'They do not establish Nsengimana's criminal responsibility or impact the Chamber's findings,'' stressed presiding judge Erik Mose.

Wednesday, a Rwandan prisoner claimed that officials from the Rwandan government and the ICTR pressured him in vain to give false evidence. Jean Damascene Niyoyita said officials visited him in Ruhengeri prison, where he is serving a life sentence, and tried to extract false testimony against Juvénal Kajelijeli and Casimir Bizimungu, brought before the ICTR on genocide charges. The first is now serving a life sentence, while Bizimungu is awaiting the Tribunal's verdict.

In another development, the Prosecution Monday closed its case against the former Rwandan Director in the Ministry of Family and Women Affairs, Jean Baptist Gatete, after fielding a total of 22 witnesses.The defendant is facing charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity to which he pleaded not guilty.

Gatete was arrested on 11 September 2002 in Congo-Brazzaville and was transferred two days later to the Tribunal. The prosecution case started on October 20.


© Hirondelle News Agency