Arusha, September 30, 2011 (FH) - Casimir Bizimungu, one of two former Rwandan ministers acquitted of genocide Friday by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), expressed his happiness shortly after the verdict was pronounced. ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow meanwhile told Hirondelle that the prosecution will decide whether to appeal against the court verdict only when it has seen the full judgment.

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''I am very happy and thank all the people who contributed to this success," Bizimungu told Hirondelle before he was rushed away by UN security personnel. "I will mention first my lawyers, then my family, my friends and I thank God.''

Bizimungu's lead defence counsel Michelyne St. Laurent also expressed satisfaction, saying: "There is justice, there is justice. I am very happy.''

Bizimungu, a medical doctor, was Health Minister in the Rwandan interim government in place during the 1994 genocide. He and former Foreign Affairs Minister Jérome Bicamumpaka were acquitted, while the ICTR handed down 30-year prison sentences on former Trade Minister Justin Mugenzi and former Civil Service Minister Prosper Mugiraneza for their role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.   

‘'We clearly welcome the conviction of the two, Mugenzi and Mugiraneza, for the crimes of conspiracy to commit genocide and also direct and public incitement to commit genocide,'' Jallow told Hirondelle. Asked if the prosecution would appeal the acquittals and sentences, he said he could not give an evaluation "until we receive the full judgment, look at it and consider whether there is any reason to proceed with the appeal''.

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. They have been in ICTR custody for twelve years.


© Hirondelle News Agency