Arusha, September 28, 2011 (FH) -- The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Wednesday confirmed the 25-year prison sentence imposed on former Rwandan businessman Yussuf Munyakazi for genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. The Court thus rejected appeals by both the defence, which called for acquittal, and the prosecution, which wanted life imprisonment.

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Munyakazi, a Muslim elder aged 76, was convicted by the lower court on June 30, 2010. The court found that he led killings of some 5,000 Tutsis who had taken refuge at Shangi and Mibilizi catholic churches (Cyangugu prefecture, southwest Rwanda) on April 29 and 30, 1994.

"The Appeals Chamber is satisfied that the prosecution evidence formed a reasonable basis for the Trial Chamber to conclude that Munyakazi led the attacks (and) finds no error in the assessment of this evidence," according to the judgment.

The Chamber dismissed Munyakazi's appeal in which he argued notably that his defence of alibi had not been taken into consideration.  The Appeals Court said the lower court had reasonably concluded that Munyakazi failed to provide notice of his alibi and found no error in the assessment of evidence.

Furthermore, the Chamber dismissed the prosecution's appeal for a life sentence. "The prosecution has failed to demonstrate that the Trial Chamber committed a discernible error in determining Munyakazi's sentence," said Judge Mehmet Guney.

Born in 1935 in Rwamatamu commune (Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda), Munyakazi was a big farmer and wealthy businessman during the 1994 genocide. A father of 13 children with two wives, he is also the ICTR's oldest detainee.

Munyakazi was arrested in May 2004 in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where he lived as an Imam. His trial started on 22 April, 2009.  


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