‘'The majority of the Trial Chamber, Judge Arrey dissenting, sentences Ndahimana to a single sentence of fifteen years of imprisonment ,'' Presiding Judge Florence Rita Arrey flanked with two other Judges Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov and Aydin Sefa Akay announced.
Ndahimana, 59, was Mayor of Kivumu commune in Kibuye prefecture, Western Rwanda. He allegedly planned with others the massacres of Tutsis at Nyange Church in his commune between April 14 and 16, 1994.
The judgment explained that Ndahimana was found guilty of genocide and extermination by aiding and abetting as well as by virtue of his command responsibility over the communal police.
‘'Ndahimana had effective control over the communal police. The majority, Judge Arrey dissenting, thus, finds that he is only criminally liable for his failure to punish crimes committed by the communal police at Nyange parish on 15 April , 1994,'' the Chamber declared.
The Kivumu communal police actively participated alongside other assailants to attack and kill Tutsi refugees hosted in the Nyange church on that day.
The Chamber further found that mere presence of the accused at the scene of the crime on April 16, 1994 had an encouraging effect on the principal perpetrators especially because the accused was in a position of authority as the mayor of the commune.
The Chamber during its findings found several allegations leveled against the accused ‘'not proven beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution'' though the convict was present in some of the alleged planning and incitement meetings and during the demolition of the church.
According to the judgment the prosecutor had only proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had reason to know of the crimes perpetrated by the communal police on April 15, 1994 and failed to punish them. Judge Arrey attached several dissenting opinions on most of the decisions agreed by the majority of the judges.
Speaking shortly after the judgment, lead counsel for the convict, Barat Chadha told Hirondelle News Agency that ‘'the judgment [was] not bad.''
‘'I believe there is a good chance of getting an acquittal at the Appeals Chamber,'' Chadha predicted adding that he was yet to consult his client on the way forward.
On his side, ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow said he was dissatisfied with certain aspects of the decision which acquitted the convict though did not elaborate immediately when he made brief statement to the media. ‘'The office of the prosecutor will be filing an appeal in certain respects against the judgment and the sentence,'' he announced.
Other authorities linked with the massacres at the church where more than 2000 Tutsi refugees were killed include genocide-convict, Father Athanase Seromba, currently serving life imprisonment, businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga, who was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment in the first instance and Fulgence Kayishema, ex-Judicial Police Inspector of the commune, still at large.
© Hirondelle News Agency