Arusha, December 17, 2012 (FH) – Survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda are shocked by the early releases granted last week to two convicts of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, according to the Rwanda News Agency (RNA).

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The two who benefitted from early release are former mayor Paul Bisengimana and former militia leader Omar Serushago.

“International justice should play an educative role, to make sure that these heinous crimes are never committed again,” RNA quotes Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, head of survivors’ group IBUKA, as saying. “But as well as giving short sentences, it doesn’t even wait for them to be served out.”

Dusingizemungu said that while Ibuka has no power to challenge the Tribunal’s decision, “there is no hiding the fact that these decisions are disappointing”.

The two men released were both sentenced by the ICTR to 15 years in jail. They had been serving their sentences in Mali under an agreement between the UN and that country.

President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals Theodor Meron based his decision largely on the practice of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) , where convicts are eligible for early release after serving two-thirds of their sentence.