Arusha, July 25, 2012 (FH) -Defence for former Rwandan army officer, Captain Ildephonse Nizeyimana, has lodged a notice of appeal to challenge both his conviction and life imprisonment sentence imposed on him by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for his role in the 1994 genocide.

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“The appellant requests the Appeals Chamber to grant his appeal in its entirety, vacate the convictions wrongly pronounced by the Trial Chamber and acquit him on all counts, or alternatively reduce his sentence substantially,” reads part of the notice of appeal filed on Tuesday.

On June 19, 2012, a Trial Chamber presided by Judge Lee Muthoga convicted Nizeyimana of genocide, crimes against humanity (extermination and murder) and war crimes (murder) for ordering massacres of several individuals at various locations in Butare prefecture, South Rwanda, mainly in April 1994.

He was found responsible for the killings of Rosalie Gicanda, the last Tutsi queen of Rwanda and other victims of the massacres, including thousands of Tutsi civilians who took refuge at Cyahinda Parish.

But in the appeal, the defence claims, among others, that the lower court erred in finding that the appellant exercise effective control over the soldiers at the Non-Commissioned Officers School (ESO), who allegedly took part in the killings and had material ability to prevent and punish crimes under certain circumstances.

“Such ability must be proven beyond all reasonable doubts,” the lawyers for the appellant say in the notice. It was alleged that Nizeyimana was second in command, in charge of intelligence and military operations at the military school in Butare, a town full of scholars in Rwanda.

They further stated the Chamber erred in rejecting the appellant’s defence of alibi that as of April 20 and 22, 1994 and later from April 26 to the end of May, 1994, he was not in Butare. In its judgement, the Chamber ruled that the alibi was not credible and does not call into question Nizeyimana’s involvement in crimes.

In the case, the prosecution has also lodged an appeal, seeking conviction of the appellant on more offences for crimes allegedly committed at Butare University and at Butare Hospital. The prosecutor wants Nizeyimana convicted as a superior for crimes committed by soldiers who worked under him.