Arusha, December 23, 2011 (FH) -While the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) this week sentenced to life imprisonment two top ex-Rwandan politicians, Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, for their role in the 1994 genocide, the International Criminal Court (ICC) released former Rwandan rebel leader, Callixte Mbarushimana, for insufficient evidence to prosecute his case. He flew back to Paris where he has a refugee status.

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Top MRND leaders get life imprisonment sentence: A Trial Chamber Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment top leaders of former Rwandan ruling party, MRND, Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, for their role in the implementation of the 1994 Tutsi genocide. Ngirumpatse and Karemera, who were respectively President and Vice-President, were convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. They were held responsible as senior officials for crimes committed by members of their party, notably its Interahamwe youth wing. The Chamber held that those crimes including rape and sexual violence perpetrated throughout the country. It also held that Karemera and Ngirumpatse had authority and effective control over Interahamwe, who participated in attacks on Tutsis throughout the genocide and failed to punish them.

UN calls member states to host acquitted persons: On Wednesday, the UN Security Council called on member states to host five persons acquitted by ICTR and are still waiting in safe houses under the Tribunal's protection. It took into consideration, among others, a letter addressed to the Council's President by ICTR President, Judge Khalida Rachid Khan that efforts by the Tribunal to find host countries for the acquitted persons proved unsuccessful.


Government announces closing ceremony for Gacaca courts: On Wednesday, a Cabinet Meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame, announced that closing ceremony for semi-traditional courts known as Gacaca would be on May 4, 2012. The closure of the courts was first announced in 2007 but has been postponed several times due to what officials say complexity of certain cases and the discovery of new facts.


Former Rwandan rebel leader released: Former Rwandan rebel leader, Callixte Mbarushimana, Friday flew back to Paris where he has a refugee status after The Hague based International Criminal Court released him for lack of evidence to prosecute him. On December 16, ICC judges ordered Mbarushimana's release after refusing to confirm the charges, including murder, rape and persecution, he was accused of. The prosecution immediately lodged an appeal, but was rejected on Tuesday as some of its content was inadmissible for lack of evidence.   

Kenyan court declines bid to stay arrest warrant for al-Bashir: The Kenyan Court of Appeal Tuesday refused to suspend the execution of an arrest order against Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. The court ruled that an application by Attorney General was "insufficient and unconvincing". The November 28, High Court order sought to be challenged requires Kenyan authorities to arrest Bashir if he sets foot in Kenya. Bashir is wanted by the International Court for genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur.   


© Hirondelle News Agency