Arusha, September 12th 2006 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has pronounced two judgments this Tuesday, one of acquittal for Jean Mpambara – former mayor of Rukara (East Rwanda) and the other of 25 years in prison in the case of Tharcisse Muvunyi – the former commander of the non-commissioned officers’ academy in Butare. Jean Mpambara, 52 years old, accused of having allowed genociders to perpetrate crimes in his town, was released from the tribunal after 5 years in prison.

1 min 23Approximate reading time

He thanked his lawyers, Arthur Vercken and Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse from France as well as his defense witnesses.

During the trial which opened on September 19th, ten witnesses for the prosecution and sixteen defense witnesses have appeared before the court. The chamber has unanimously decided that the prosecution has not proved the defendant guilty « beyond a reasonable doubt ». Among the defense witnesses was the Spanish priest in charge of the parish as well as two Western doctors working at the time in the nearby hospital.

A smiling and relaxed Jean Mpambara has declared to Hirondelle journalists that he now intends to seek asylum in France to join his wife. The first of the 3 convicts acquitted by the ICTR is already living in France while the other two are still in Arusha; they have been waiting for a host country for several months now. Mpambara’s acquittal remains subject to appeal; the prosecution has not communicated his decision yet.

In the case of Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, 53 years old, the prosecution has not managed to establish proof of his personal responsibility in the behavior of his subordinates. The chamber has only granted the fact that he had not stepped in to stop or punish them. Over sufficiently established facts, Muvunyi has been declared guilty of crime of genocide, of aiding and abetting genocide and crime against humanity. His lawyer Wiliam Taylor (US) has shared his intention to appeal.

These judgments are the 29th and 30th the ICTR has pronounced since it held it first hearing in January 1997. Created by the Security Council of the United Nations a few months after the Rwandan genocide that caused the death of 800.000 persons according to the UN, the ICTR is to judge the genociders until December 31st 2008.