Arusha, March 19, 2010 (FH)- The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Appeals Chamber rendered three judgements this week, reducing the pending cases to six, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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These are the first three appeals judgements for this year.

The Chamber on Monday upheld a ten-month jail term imposed by court of first instance on Rwandan lawyer Leonidas Nshogoza for contempt of court in July, last year. Nshogoza was found guilty of meeting on several occasions between March 2004 and May 2005 prosecution witnesses who were subject of protection measures.

On Thursday two other judgements were delivered.

Famous Rwandan singer and composer Simon Bikindi's 15-year-sentence was upheld after the chamber was convinced of one count of direct and public incitement to commit genocide for a speech he made from a vehicle equipped with loudspeakers in late June 1994 on a road in northwestern Rwanda.

The panel of five appeals judges dismissed a prosecution appeal for a minimum sentence of 30 years. The time Bikindi has already spent in prison since his arrest in July 2001 will be deducted from the 15 years.

Two hours later the Chamber in the day's second judgement reduced the life sentence handed down on a former Rwandan public prosecutor and ex-ICTR investigator to 40 years. Simeon Nshamihigo was at the time of the genocide deputy public prosecutor in the south western Rwandan town of Cyangugu.

When he was arrested in May 2001, he was working under a false identity as part of a defence team. He was arrested after an ICTR witness recognized him.

Presiding judge Patrick Robinson confirmed the lower court's ruling that Nshamihigo was guilty of genocide, killings, extermination and other inhuman acts but overturned a number of other convictions.

In another development, the trial of Augustin Ngirabatware, former Rwanda's Planning Minister, was on Thursday adjourned to 21 June. So far  17 prosecution witnesses have testified in this trial which is one of the slowest for this year.

Meanwhile, a former member of the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) testifying in defence of genocide-accused Jean-Baptiste Gatete narrated on Thursday  the army's rout in the wake of President Juvenal Habyarimana's assassination. Augustin Habakubaho, who now lives in exile in Cameroon, worked as secretary at the Mutara military district Transmission Center where he was in charge of receiving and transmitting telegrams to the RAF hierarchy, in addition to filing military communications.

He remembered having received two telegrams the night of April 6, 1994. The first announced that the President's plane had been shot down over Kigali. Hours later, the second telegram requested Camp and District Commanders to drive to Kigali for a meeting the following day.

He also claimed that Interahamwe militia of then Rwandan presidential party, MRND, and Burundian civilians were trained at the Gabiro military camp, Murambi commune, western Rwanda.

The trial continues on Monday.


© Hirondelle News Agency