Having not found any allegations proven against (them), the Chamber acquits Casimir Bizimungu and Jérome Bicamumpaka of all counts of the indictment. The Chamber orders (their) immediate release and requests the registry to make such necessary arrangements," declared presiding Judge Khalida Rachid Khan.
The four ex-ministers were jointly charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (murder, extermination and rape) and war crimes. During the 1994 genocide, Bizimungu was Minister of Health, Bicamumpaka of Foreign Affairs, Mugiraneza of the Civil Service and Mugenzi of Trade.
The Chamber found Mugenzi and Mugiraneza guilty on two counts of conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide for their role in removing the prefect of Butare on April 17, 1994, and replacing him two days later.
The Chamber concluded that the dismissal of prefect Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana was intended to undermine the real and symbolic resistance to the genocide in Butare.
Based on Mugenzi's and Mugiraneza's participation in the decision to remove Butare's Tutsi prefect, Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana, the Chamber convicts Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza for conspiracy to commit genocide," the judge said.
The Chamber noted that Mugenzi and Mugiraneza also attended the inauguration ceremony for the new prefect on April 19, 1994, where President Théodore Sindikubwabo gave an inflammatory speech.
Based on Mugenzi's and Mugiraneza's participation in the subsequent installation ceremony where Sindikubwabo gave an inflammatory speech inciting the killing of Tutsis, the Chamber convicts Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza of direct and public incitement to commit genocide," Judge Khan said.
Judge Emile Short issued a dissenting opinion on the sentence, saying the two convicts deserved a reduction of five years for violation of right to trial without undue delay.
Delivery of their judgment comes 12 years after the accused were arrested and nearly eight years after their trial began. Bizimungu was arrested in Kenya on February 11, 1999, and transferred to the ICTR 12 days later. Mugenzi, Bicamumpaka and Mugiraneza were all arrested in Cameroon on April 6, 1999, and transferred to the ICTR Detention Facility in Arusha on July 31 the same year.
© Hirondelle News Agency