Arusha, March 18, 2010 (FH)-The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Appeals Chamber on Thursday reaffirmed a 15-year-jail sentence imposed on Rwanda's renowned musician and composer Simon Bikindi for his role in the 1994 genocide.

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Presiding Judge Patrick Robinson said that after considering the defendant's appeal the Chamber had not found grounds to overturn the lower court's sentence, which was delivered in December, 2008.

‘'The Appeals Chamber affirms the Appelant's 15 years imprisonment,'' he said in his 30 minute judgement, however adding that Bikindi, 55, will be entitled to a credit of nine years that he has already spent in detention in Arusha, the seat of the UN court.

Bikindi, in his usual white long shirt and trousers, was in the court-room and looked uncomfortable as the judges dismissed one after another his six grounds of appeals. At times, he was seen wiping tears down his cheeks.

The Appeals Chamber also dismissed the Prosecution's argument, among others, to increase the sentence to between 30 years and life jail.

‘'We're fine with the appeals court decision,'' ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Jallow told Hirondelle Agency moments after the judgement was delivered.

The lead counsel for the accused Andreas O'shea said that the judges had done their duty.

Bikindi was convicted on a single count of direct and public incitement to commit genocide by the first instance court. He was convicted for broadcasting a speech from a speaker on his car calling on Hutus to kill Tutsis in 1994.

On a second drive along the same road in eastern Rwanda, he asked if people had been killing the "snakes".  He was acquitted on five other charges including genocide, crimes against humanity and murder.

At the heart of the trial were Bikindi's radical songs which were very popular during the genocide.

His voice dominated the airwaves when his songs were played many times a day over the extremist Hutu radio station Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) during the genocide. However, Bikindi was not impeached for the songs as they were composed before 1994.

The Chamber recognized that those songs were inflammatory but the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubts that Bikindi was behind the broadcast of the songs at the RTLM, which used them as a ‘tool' to incite killings during the genocide.


© Hirondelle News Agency