Kamuhanda Convicted and Sentenced to Prison for the Remainder of His Life
Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda today found Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, former Rwandan Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, guilty on two counts of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. The Tribunal sentenced him to prison for the remainder of his life.
The Trial Chamber, composed of Judges William H. Sekule (United Republic of Tanzania), presiding, Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho) and Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) found the accused not guilty of five counts in the nine count indictment against him. They included conspiracy to commit genocide, rape as a crime against humanity and other inhumane acts as crime against humanity, and two counts of violations of the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II. The Chamber also dismissed two counts of complicity in genocide and murder as a crime against humanity.
In reaching its guilty verdict on two counts, the Trial Chamber found that Mr. Kamuhanda harboured the intent to destroy the Tutsi ethnic group in whole or part and is individually criminally responsible for instigating, ordering, aiding and abetting genocide against Tutsi by virtue of his role in the killing of members of the Tutsi ethnic group in the Gikomero Parish Compound where he ordered Interahamwe militia, soldiers, and policemen to kill the Tutsis. The judges also found that a large number of Tutsi were exterminated as a direct result of Mr. Kamuhanda’s participation by ordering, instigating, aiding and abetting the attack of the Gikomero Parish Compound.
The Trial Chamber noted that Kamuhanda admitted that, between 1 January 1994 and 17 July 1994, widespread or systematic attacks were directed throughout Rwanda against a civilian population with the specific objective of extermination of the Tutsi. However, the accused denied any involvement in the crimes.
The Prosecution had charged that the accused played a role in the massacres committed in Gikomero Parish Compound and Gishaka Catholic Parish, distributed weapons used in those massacres, and was responsible for rape committed during the attack. It added that the accused was also responsible for crimes as a member of the interim government.
The Trial Chamber cleared Kamuhanda of criminal responsibility for the massacre of Tutsi at the Gishaka Catholic Church. Due to inconsistencies and irreconcilable differences in the testimony of Prosecution witnesses, the Chamber did not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused participated in the massacres at the Gishaka Catholic Church.
It also found that there was evidence beyond reasonable doubt that Kamuhanda distributed weapons at the respective homes of his two cousins – Kamanzi and Karakezi, in Gikomero commune. But it cleared the accused of charges that he distributed weapons at other sites, as filed in the indictment.
However it found that the Prosecution did not provide enough evidence to show that Kamuhanda had criminal responsibility in his capacity as Minister in the interim government.
The Trial Chamber also found that there was insufficient evidence to support the Prosecution’s allegation that the accused was responsible for rape allegedly committed by assailants at Gikomero Parish compound.
The Kamuhanda judgement brings to 18 the number of accused who have been judged since the first trials started in January 1997. Seventeen were convicted and one was acquitted.
Kamuhanda was represented by Aicha Condé (Guinea) and the Prosecution was led at today’s hearing by Mr. Ibukunolu Babajide (Nigeria) in the presence of the Prosecutor, Mr. Hassan Bubacar Jallow. Twenty eight Prosecution witnesses and 36 Defence witnesses, including Kamuhanda himself testified in the trial.