Samuel Imanishimwe, a former Lieutenant in the Rwandan Army and Commander of the army barracks in Cyangugu, was acquitted yesterday of the charge of conspiracy to commit genocide by a majority decision of Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Notwithstanding this acquittal Imanishimwe still faces seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
Announcing the decision of the majority, Judge Williams, the presiding judge of Trial Chamber III, said that he and Judge Ostrovsky found that the evidence presented by the Prosecution was insufficient to sustain a conviction on the count of conspiracy. A motion to this effect had been submitted on behalf of Imanishimwe. However Judge Dolenc found that, in reality, the motion was based upon a claim of defects in the indictment which should have been raised earlier in the proceedings and should therefore be dismissed. Judge Williams said that full written reasons for the majority decision would be given in due course.
This is the first time that such a motion has been successful in a case before the ICTR. However the Trial attorneys for the Prosecutor announced that she would appeal against the decision. A similar motion in the Semanza case was unanimously dismissed by Trial Chamber III in September 2001.
The trial, known as the “Cyangugu trial”, of Imanishimwe and his co-accused, André Ntagerura, former minister of Transport and Emmanuel Bagambiki, the former Prefect (Governor) of Cyangugu, continued this morning with evidence from the first defence witness.