Arusha, March 06, 2012 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Tuesday granted an early release to former Rwandan military officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, after having served more than twelve years of a 15-year jail term for his role in the 1994 genocide.

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‘'Early released was now appropriate since more than three fourths of Muvunyi's sentence had been served,'' states part of a press release, quoting the President of the Tribunal, Judge Vagn Joensen, as saying.

The press statement explained that on April 18, 2011 Muvunyi wrote to the ICTR President, requesting early release since two thirds of his sentence had already been served.

In the first trial, the ex-officer of the Rwandan Armed Forces had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and other inhumane acts. But, the Appeals Chamber overturned the lower court's judgment on August 29, 2008, and ordered a new trial on only one count of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, throwing out other charges on grounds of errors in the indictment.   

The single charge of direct and public incitement to commit genocide related particularly to a speech Muvunyi made at Gikore Commercial Centre, Butare Prefecture, southern Rwanda, in May 1994. Muvunyi was accused of using Kinyarwanda proverbs to encourage Hutus to kill Tutsis.

The Chamber found him guilty over the event that led to killings of ethnic Tutsis. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with credit on the time already spent in custody since his arrest in 2000.

Two other ICTR convicts have already been granted early release. They include former head of Rwandan Tea Authority, Michel Bagaragaza, who was set free on December 1, 2011 and ex-Rwandan Mayor, Juvenal Rugambarara released from jail on February 8, 2012.

Bagaragaza served his sentence in Sweden whereas Rugambarara was doing the same in Benin. Muvunyi, who was in the custody of ICTR at the time of decision for his early release, did not plead guilty to the charges as was the case for Rugambarara and Bagaragaza.

According to the ICTR Spokesperson, Roland Amoussouga, Muvunyi has already been set free and has arrived at the Safe House where other acquitted persons stay under the supervision of the Tribunal. 


© Hirondelle News Agency