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ICTR Renders 2 Judgements: 2. Tharcisse Muvunyi Sentenced to 25 years Imprisonment

Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found today Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi the former Commander of the Rwandan military school, Ecole des Sous-officiers (ESO), guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity (other inhumane acts). Meanwhile, the Trial Chamber found him not guilty of crimes against humanity (rape) and dismissed the alternative charge of complicity in genocide, and sentenced him to 25 years of imprisonment. The Chamber also ruled that the accused shall receive credit for time served since his arrest on 5 February 2000.

For purposes of sentencing the accused, the Chamber composed of Judges Asoka de Silva presiding, Flavia Lattanzi and Florence Rita Arrey considered as aggravating factors: the ethnic separation and subsequent killing of orphan children at the Groupe scolaire by soldiers under the command of the Accused in collaboration with civilian militia; the fact that the Accused chastised the bourgmestre of Nyakizu Commune for hiding a Tutsi man and that pursuant to his instructions, the said man was produced and killed by an armed Hutu mob.

As mitigating factors the Chamber has considered: the good character of the Accused prior to 1994; his position as a husband and father of three children; and the fact that he spent most of his life working for the defence of his country; many witnesses portrayed the Accused as a highly respected individual and devoted worshipper. The chamber has heard evidence indicating that prior to 1994 the accused never discriminated against anyone on the basis of ethnicity.

In its Judgment, the Chamber said that the Accused had reason to know about the attacks perpetrated in his commune. Despite his superior military position over the said soldiers, he failed to do anything to prevent the attack or punish the soldiers’ murderous conduct.

The Chamber also held that the Prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that in May 1994, Muvunyi addressed a public meeting attended by about one thousand mainly Hutu. During his speech, the Accused called for the killing of Tutsis, the destruction of Tutsi property, associated Tutsis with the enemy, and denigrated Tutsi people by referring to them as snakes. The Chamber was therefore satisfied that Muvunyi’s audience understood his words. T he Chamber found the Accused, Tharcisse Muvunyi, guilty of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

The Chamber dismissed the charge of rape as crimes against humanity because the witnesses called by the Prosecution attributed the rapes to soldiers of ESO yet the specific charges in the indictment referred to rapes committed by soldiers from the Ngoma camp and Interahamwe.

For the crimes against humanity (other inhumane acts) for which Muvunyi was found guilty, the Chamber was satisfied that the Accused had reason to know about the attacks and mistreatment of Tutsi civilians by his subordinates and that he failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or punish their conduct.

Tharcisse Muvunyi (53) was arrested in the United Kingdom on 5 February 2000 and transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania on 30 October 2000. He made his initial appearance at the Tribunal on 8 November 2000 and pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

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