A UN tribunal has agreed to review its appeals judgement against a former Rwandan minister found guilty of genocide crimes, a case blocked for months by the detention of one of the court’s top judges.
In a statement released Monday the UN’s Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals said in a rare legal move it would review its ruling convicting Augustin Ngirabatware for his role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed.
Ngirabatware, planning minister at the time of the genocide, was found guilty of inciting, aiding and encouraging militiamen in his home district of Nyamyumba in northwestern Rwanda to kill their Tutsi neighbours.
He was sentenced in 2012 to 35 years in jail, but this was cut to 30 years on appeal in 2014.
In 2016 he filed a request for a review of his convictions “on the basis of a new fact, which he claims exonerates him,” said the statement by the court set up in 2012, which took over from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda after it closed in 2015.
Ngirabatware was found guilty of inciting, aiding and encouraging militiamen in his home district of Nyamyumba in northwestern Rwanda to kill their Tutsi neighbours.
His case has been held up for months by the detention of Turkish bench judge Aydin Sefa Akay.
Akay was last week sentenced to over seven years in jail on charges of links to a group blamed for an attempted coup in Turkey last year in a case which caused an uproar in the international legal community.
He has been released pending an appeal and “confirmed his ability and willingness to exercise his judicial functions in this case,” said the UN court.