Arusha, January 21, 2010 - Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, former Director to Cabinet(directeur de cabinet) in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence in 1994, has filed his notice of appeal one year after he was handed down a life jail sentence for his role in the genocide.

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In the 19-page notice, Bagosora's Lead counsel Raphael Constant, requests the Chamber to "reverse the sentence and pronounce an acquittal" or the least to "order a new trial".

His appeal's brief will follow in the next weeks. Thereafter, a date will be set up for the Appeal hearing.

On December 18, 2008, the Trial chamber found that Theoneste Bagosora was responsible for the killings of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, the 10 Belgian peacekeepers, as well as for crimes committed at several roadblocks in the Kigali area.

He was, therefore, guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment.

He was, however, acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to commit genocide.

Constant enhances in his notice of appeal that "the trial chamber did not take into consideration a single testimony involving directly Colonel Bagosora in the killings."  He underlines that Colonel Bagosora was condemned solely "for his superior responsibility".

The Chamber also concluded that although Bagosora had no legal authority on the armed forces, he was de facto the highest authority in the Ministry of Defence and exercised effective control over the Rwandan army and gendarmerie from 6 until 9 April, when the Minister of Defence returned to Rwanda. "Major error", Constant writes.

He claims that his client did not master the whole crisis after the assassination of president Juvenal Habyarimana.

Constant submits that on April 7, 1994, the control of the Army was in fact given to the current Minister for Defence in Rwanda, General Marcel Gatsinzi, appointed interim Head of Staff to replace General Deogratias Nsabimana, who had been killed in Habyarimana's plane downing.

On December 18, 2008, Judge Erik Mose had read an English summary of the sentence.

Bagosora, who does not understand English, had immediately said he needed to read the entire trial judgment in French before filing his notice of appeal.

The French version of the Judgment, a text of 1,004 pages, was transmitted to the parties on December 10, 2009, according to Bagosora appeal's notice.


© Hirondelle News Agency