Arusha, February 9, 2012 (FH) -The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday granted early release with immediate effect to former Rwandan mayor Juvenal Rugambarara, who has served more than three-quarters of an 11-year sentence for extermination as a crime against humanity. He is currently held in Benin, under an agreement with the Tribunal.  

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"The Registrar is directed to inform the Beninois and Rwandan authorities of this decision as soon as practicable," ICTR President, Judge Khalida Rachid Khan said in the Tribunal's ruling dated February 8, 2012.

This is the second time the ICTR has granted early release to a convict. In October 2011, it issued a similar decision in favour of Michel Bagaragaza, ex-head of the Rwandan Tea Authority, who was released on December 1, 2011 from the jail in Sweden where he was being held.

Judge Khan considered a number of factors, including the ICTR decision on the early release of Bagaragaza and  decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) granting early release if appropriate after two-thirds of the sentence has been served. She also took into consideration the fact that Rugambarara pleaded guilty and expressed remorse, as well as his good behaviour in detention.

The letter requesting Rugambarara's early release was transmitted to the President of the Tribunal by Benin's Minister of Justice on September 21, 2001.

Rugambarara was mayor of Bicumbi commune in central Rwanda. He was arrested in Uganda on August 11, 2003 and transferred to ICTR custody two days later. In his initial appearance on July 13, 2007, the ex-mayor pleaded guilty to extermination as a crime against humanity

He was convicted of the crime on November 16, 2007, for failure to take necessary and reasonable measures in order to punish his subordinates implicated in massacres of Tutsis between April 7 and 20,1994. He was sentenced to 11 years in jail with credit for the time already served since his arrest.


© Hirondelle News Agency