Arusha, October 21, 2010 (FH) - The prosecution Thursday asked the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to enhance to 25 years of imprisonment the 15-year-jail term imposed on Lieutenant-Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi for direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

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"The 15 years sentence is unreasonable, unfair and unjust and, as the Appeals Chamber terms, was removed from a wrongly shelf," Trial Attorney Alfred Orono Orono told the chamber.

According to him, the Trial Chamber should have considered the defendant's individual capacity and gravity of offence committed as result of his conducts. He claimed that the defendant was high ranking military official.

Muvunyi, who was based in the Non-Commissioned Officers School (ESO), was convicted of direct and public incitement to commit genocide for giving a speech at Gikore Centre, Butare Prefecture (Southern Rwanda) in May, 1994, allegedly leading killings of Tutsis.   

"The defendant's conducts cannot be punished by only 15 years. That is an error on face of the record. Inciting people to commit genocide is like committing genocide," he submitted.

Lead counsel for the defendant, William Taylor, sought for dismissal of the prosecution's arguments and that his client's appeal against conviction and sentence should be allowed, citing, among others, inconsistencies of evidence given to prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt.

"The inconsistencies troubled the Trial Chamber. Why then the reasonable doubt was not given in favor of the defendant? The Appeals Chamber should so find that Trial Chamber erred in convicting my client," the American lawyer submitted.

He submitted that allegations in relation to Gikore event were not supported by evidence, particularly on whether the defendant had incited people. While other witnesses said Muvunyi gave incitement statements, others, most from defence testified to the contrary.

In his part, Muvunyi briefly claimed to have been wrongly charged, citing a report of genocide in Rwanda he had tendered during his trial of which neither mentioned him as a perpetrator nor indicated Gikore as among the massacre sites.

The 15-year-jail term was given by Trial Chamber III against Muvunyi on February 11, 2010, after the Appeals Chamber quashed his first conviction and 25 imprisonment sentence against him for genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and other inhumane acts.

It had ordered a retrial on direct and public incitement to commit genocide count, specifically on the speech Muvunyi made at Gikore Commercial Centre.


© Hirondelle News Agency