Arusha, September 28, 2011 (FH) - The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Wednesday confirmed the lower court's conviction and 25-year prison sentence on ex-Rwandan military officer Lieutenant Colonel Ephrem Setako for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It found him guilty on an additional count of murder as a war crime, but said this did not warrant an increase in the sentence.

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Setako's own appeal was rejected. The defendant had argued that he should be acquitted owing to inconsistencies in witness testimonies regarding his responsibility in two massacres.

Setako was head of the legal affairs division of the Rwandan Defence Ministry during the 1994 genocide. The lower court  convicted him on February 25, 2010, for his role in the killing of some 50 Tutsi refugees in two separate massacres at Mukamira military camp (Ruhengeri prefecture, northern Rwanda) on April 25 and May 11, 1994.

The additional murder count added by the Appeals Court relates to Setako's responsibility in the second massacre.  The Appeals Court said that  " based on its factual findings in relation to the 11 May killings, the Trial Chamber ought to have convicted Setako. This failure constitutes an error of law". Judge Fausto Pocar issued a dissenting opinion on this point.   

Setako hails from Nkuli commune in Ruhengeri prefecture and was born on May 5, 1949. He was arrested on February 25, 2004 in the Netherlands and transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha on November 17, 2004.

His trial began on August 25, 2008, and closed on June 26, 2009 after 60 days of trial.


© Hirondelle News Agency