Arusha, November 14, 2011 (FH) - The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will deliver its judgment in the case of former senior Rwandan official, Dominique Ntawukulilyayo, on December 14, instead of December 15, 2011, as was announced earlier by the press and public affair's section of the Tribunal.

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No reasons were given for the changes. Ntawukulilyayo, who was deputy governor of Gisagara in Butare prefecture, South Rwanda in 1994, is appealing the August 3, 2010 decision in which he was convicted of genocide and sentenced to 25 years in jail for his role in the massacres of Tutsi refugees at Kabuye hill.

Although he was convicted, the ICTR lower court's decision was not unanimous. Judges Khalida Rachid Khan and Lee Muthoga found him guilty for transporting soldiers to Kabuye Hill, who later joined other assailants in the killings. However, Judge Aydin Akay gave a dissenting opinion, saying he could not agree with the conviction because of contradictions in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses.

During hearing of the appeal on September 26, 2011, the prosecution requested the Appeals Chamber to uphold both conviction and the 25 years imprisonment sentence imposed on the former deputy governor for genocide.  "The Trial Chamber found it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that Ntawukulilyayo was present at Gisagara market and at Kabuye Hill," Prosecutor Ousman Jammeh  submitted, adding, "Massacres took place and no other person was responsible than Ntawukulilyayo. We ask you to uphold the conviction and the sentence imposed."

Lead Counsel for the appellant, Maroufa Diabira, asked the Chamber to acquit his client. "Ntawukulilyayo deserves your attention," he told the Appeals Chamber. "His conviction will be deeply unjust."

Born in southern Rwanda in 1942, Ntawukulilyayo was arrested in France in 2007 and transferred to the ICTR on June 5, 2008, after an unsuccessful battle against extradition. His trial started on May 6, 2009. The prosecution fielded 12 witnesses, while 23 testified for the defence, including the accused himself.


© Hirondelle News Agency