The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, composed of Judges Theodor Meron, presiding, Mehmet Güney, Fausto Pocar, Liu Daqun, and Carmel Agius, today reversed Protais Zigiranyirazo’s convictions for genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity and entered a verdict of acquittal. It then ordered his immediate release from the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania.
On 18 December 2008, Trial Chamber III found Zigiranyirazo guilty of committing genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity by participating in a joint criminal enterprise to kill Tutsis at Kesho Hill in Gisenyi Prefecture on 8 April 1994 and sentenced him to two terms of 20 years of imprisonment. He was also found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide in relation to the killing of Tutsis at a roadblock in the Kiyovu area of Kigali and sentenced to one term of 15 years of imprisonment. The Trial Chamber ordered that these sentences be served concurrently.
The Appeals Chamber reversed Zigiranyirazo’s convictions after finding several serious factual and legal errors in the Trial Chamber’s assessment of his alibi in respect of both events on which his convictions were based.
Zigiranyirazo was born on 2 February 1938 in the Giciye Commune, Gisenyi Prefecture, Rwanda. He was the brother-in-law of the late former President of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana. Zigiranyirazo became a Member of Parliament in 1969. In 1973, he was appointed Prefect of Kibuye and then served as Prefect of Ruhengeri from 1974 until 1989. After his resignation, he studied in Canada and returned to Rwanda in 1993 to work as a businessman.
Zigiranyirazo was arrested in Belgium on 26 July 2001 and transferred to the Tribunal on 3 October 2001. His trial commenced on 3 October 2005 and closed on 29 May 2008. He was assisted by John Philpot and Peter Zaduk, both from Canada..