21.06.12 – ICTR/ZIGIRANYIRAZO – JUDGES REJECT ZIGIRANYIRAZO’S ONE MILLION DOLLARS COMPENSATION BID

Arusha, June 21, 2012(FH) –The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has denied the application by genocide acquitted Protais Zigiranyirazo, seeking over one million US dollars compensation for violation of his fundamental rights.

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Zigiranyirazo, commonly known as Mr Z, a brother-in-law of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, currently living in a safe house in Arusha, had demanded the compensation for long detention and the failure by the Tribunal to relocate him after his acquittal.

In its decision dated June 18, 2012, the judges agreed with the applicant that overall proceedings in his case were lengthy particularly bearing in mind that he was in detention throughout. “Nevertheless, the burden is on the Claimant to set out the particular delays he considers to have been undue. The Chamber cannot credit his assertion that any and all delays in his case were plainly unreasonable,” it ruled.

Furthermore, the judges similarly found that the applicant has “not established that the relevant authorities in his case, the Chamber or Registry, were at any point inactive resulting to undue delays in the proceedings.

In a partially dissenting opinion, Judge Seon Park  disagreed with his colleagues, Judges Florence Rita Arrey and Gberdao Gustave Kam for denying compensation as remedy for harm suffered by applicant as a result of his first conviction, which was later reversed on appeal.

 “I am therefore constrained to conclude that the Claimant’s detention following his conviction by the Trial Chamber was entirely unjustified and that it violated his most basic and fundamental rights. This violation warrants redress and…the only remedy is monitory compensation,” he said.

Zigiranyirazo was convicted of genocide and extermination on December 18, 2008 in the first instance and imprisoned for 20 years. But he was acquitted on appeal on November 16, 2009.

The judges also dismissed the other request by Zigiranyirazo for an order of cooperation to Belgium to allow him to reunite with his family.

They said that their duty was to interpret law and not to engage in any diplomatic negations for relocation upon acquittal of the accused.

The applicant’s lawyer, Canadian John Philpot, said he will appeal against the decision.

Zigiranyirazo was arrested in Belgium on July 25, 2001 and transferred to Arusha, the seat of the Tribunal on October 3, 2001. His trial commenced four years later.

FK/NI