Arusha, January 9, 2012 (FH) - Having wrapped up most of its cases at trial stage, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is likely to focus on appeals in 2012. Its Appeals Chamber still has nine cases outstanding involving 19 individuals. According to UN Security Council Resolution 1966 of December 2010, the ICTR must finish its first-instance trials by the end of 2012 and its Appeals cases by the end of 2014 at the latest.

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At the trial stage only one case (Rwandan former Planning Minister Augustin Ngirabatware) is still ongoing, while two cases (former Youth Minister Callixte Nzabonimana and former military officer Ildephonse Nizeyimana) are awaiting judgment. Addressing the UN Security Council in December 2011, ICTR President Judge Khalida Rachid Khan said trial work was expected to be finished by June 2012 and appeals work was on track to be completed by the end of 2014.

Many of the outstanding appeals cases are nevertheless complex, involving joint trials and former top personalities.

The appeals of Major Aloys Ntabakuze, Captain Ildephonse Hategekimana and former businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga were heard at the end of 2011 and the judges are now deliberating their verdicts. However, the other six cases are a lot less advanced, and no dates have yet been set for their hearings. The Appeals Court judges also have to rule on a number of "interlocutory motions" before some appeals hearings can go ahead.

Appeals outstanding include the following joint cases:

Military II involves four military officials. They are former army chief-of-staff General Augustin Bizimungu (sentenced to 30 years by the trial court); former head of the Gendarmerie Nationale General Augustin Ndindiliyimana (sentenced to time served in detention and subsequently released); Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye (20 years) and Captain Innocent Sagahutu (20 years).

Butare case involves six people. They include former Family Affairs Minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the only woman to be tried for genocide by an international court, and her son Arsène Ntahobali. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment. The others are former mayor Elie Ndayambaje (also sentenced to life); former mayor Joseph Kanyabashi (35 years); former prefect Alphonse Nteziryayo (30 years); and former prefect Sylvain Nsabimana (25 years).

Government II involves two former ministers: Justin Mugenzi (Trade) and Prosper Mugiraneza (Public Service), who were both sentenced to 30 years in jail but are appealing their judgments. They were tried alongside two other ministers: Casimir Bizimungu (Health) and Jérome Bicamumpaka (Foreign Affairs), who were acquitted by the trial court. The prosecution has decided not to appeal their acquittals.

MRND case involves two top leaders of former Rwandan ruling party MRND. Former MRND President Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Vice-President Edouard Karemera were both sentenced to life for their role in the 1994 genocide.

Appeals hearings are also awaited in two single-convict cases involving former senior government official Jean-Baptiste Gatete (sentenced to life) and ex-mayor Gregoire Ndahimana (jailed for 15 years).


© Hirondelle News Agency