Trial Chamber III composed of Judges Inés Mónica Weinberg de Roca, Khalida Rachid Khan and Lee Gacuiga Muthoga, on Thursday 18 December 2008, convicted Protais Zigiranyirazo of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment.
Credit was given to him for time spent in prison. The Trial Chamber however acquitted him of conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and murder as a crime against humanity. The Chamber found that the Prosecution failed to prove that Protais Zigiranyirazo conspired with officials, at various meetings, to plan or facilitate attacks on the Tutsi population. Likewise, the Prosecution failed to prove any criminal responsibility for alleged involvement in the Interahamwe, or in killings on Rurunga Hill. Furthermore, the Prosecution failed to prove that he was responsible for the murder of the three gendarmes or of Stanislas Sinibagiwe.
However, the Trial Chamber found that Zigiranyirazo, also known as “Mr. Z”, whose younger sister was married to the late President Habyarimana, was guilty of having participated in a joint criminal enterprise with the common purpose of committing genocide and extermination of Tutsi at Kesho hill, as well as aiding and abetting genocide at the Kiyovu roadblock.
The Prosecution alleged that he had attended a number of meetings with various military and government officials and other influential persons in order to plan and facilitate attacks on the Tutsi population. It accused him of using his power and influence, and as a member of the “Akazu”, the former President’s inner circle, to plan, order and instigate genocide, adding that his influence extended de facto to security officials, in particular the presidential guard, Interahamwe militias, MRND/CDR party leaders, government officials and local residents in Gisenyi and Kigali prefectures.
The defence denied all the allegations against the accused and argued that he was never in any conspiracy. It added that he and his family were hiding when many of the massacres occurred in Gisenyi prefecture. Zigiranyirazo was born on 2 February 1938 in Giciye commune, Gisenyi prefecture, Rwanda. He served as préfet of Kibuye in 1973 and as préfet of Ruhengeri from 1974 to 1989. He was arrested in Belgium on 26 July 2001 and transferred to the Tribunal on 3 October 2001. The trial commenced on 3 October 2005 and closed on 29 May 2008.
Protais Zigiranyirazo was assisted by John Philpot (Canada) and Peter Zaduk (Canada) while the Prosecution was led by Wallace Kapaya assisted by Charity Kagwi-Ndungu, Gina Butler, Iksander Ismail and Jane Mukangira.