Arusha, May 18, 2011 (FH) - The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) , Hassan Jallow, has welcomed the judgement delivered on Tuesday by the Tribunal in the case of four former Rwandan military officers, saying it is very important to all persons, particularly in the military hierarchy.

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The Tribunal convicted two former Chiefs of Staffs of the Army, General Augustin Bizimungu and that of the Gendarmerie, Augustin Ndindiliyimana of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Bizimungu was jailed 30 years, while Ndindiliyimana was sentenced to the time served since his arrest on January 29, 2000.

Whereas, other two officers, ex-Commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, a member of the unity, were ordered to remain behind bars for 20 years each, after being convicted of crime against humanity and war crimes.

According to Jallow, "The judgement is important to all persons in position of the leadership especially for military commanders. It establishes very clearly that superiors will be held legally responsible for the acts committed by their subordinates."

He added, "I think that message ought to go out. Leaders are expected to prevent their subordinates from engaging in unlawful activities or if they cannot prevent them to punish them thereafter. It is an excellent message that needed to be disseminated globally in Africa and beyond."

The Tribunal acquitted the four former army officers of the offence of conspiracy as what happened in the case of the other four military officials, including Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, on December 18, 2008.

However, Jallow says that the prosecution did not loose totally in the present case as the judges recognized that there had been plan to exterminate Tutsis.

"The judges said that what happened in Rwanda in 1994, the genocide, could have not happened in the absence of  some kind of coordination, organization and planning" he said.

According to him, the issue was as to whether the four accused conspired to commit genocide and the judges were not satisfied that they conspired to commit genocide.

The judgement was also welcomed by Rwandan Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga in Kigali. He said, "Sentencing the army officers is particularly important because if the army had wanted, genocide would have not occurred. The army deviated from its role and commanders deserve punishment."

However, he pointed out that people from Rwanda were not satisfied by the release of Ndindiliyimana. The latter was released after a Trial Chamber sentenced him to the time he spent in detention since 2000.

The Secretary General of Ibuka, an organization for genocide survivors, Janvier Forongo, went further and advised the ICTR prosecutor to appeal because the sentences imposed on those genocide planners were in the lower side.

In the judgement, the Chamber found the two generals responsible for offenses perpetrated by soldiers and gendarmes under their command in 1994. In addition Bizimungu was found to have made a speech in Mukongo Commune, calling for start of killing of Tutsis in Ruhengeri prefecture.

While for Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu, according to the judgement, ordered the killing of the Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and failed to punish perpetrators involved in killing 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers on April 7, 1994.


© Hirondelle News Agency