Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda today sentenced Samuel Imanishimwe, former military commander in the Rwanda armed forces to 27 years in prison after convicting him on six counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II.
The Chamber however acquitted André Ntagerura, former Minister of Transport and Communications and Emmanuel Bagambiki, former Prefect of Cyangugu of similar charges.
The indictments against the three accused charged them with genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II in connection with the massacres and other crimes committed in Cyangugu Prefecture in 1994. The Prosecution called forty-one witnesses, while the defence for Ntagerura called thirty-three witnesses. Imanishimwe called twenty-three witnesses and Bagambiki called twenty-six witnesses.
The Trial Chamber composed of judges George Lloyd William (St Kitts and Nevis), presiding, Yakov Ostrovsky (Russia) and Pavel Dolenc (Slovenia) acknowledged the gravity of the crimes charged against the three accused, charges which are based on the massive slaughter of mostly Tutsi civilians in Cyangugu Prefecture in 1994.
The Chamber noted that although the indictments contained grave allegations arising from horrific events, the Tribunal’s Statute and international law ensure that the trials are fair and that convictions are based “only on evidence which the Prosecutor has established beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The Chamber found that soldiers, Interahamwe militia and members of the local population participated in massacres of the civilian Tutsi population and of Hutu political opponents in Cyangugu. The evidence presented in this case focused on the killing of massive numbers of Tutsi civilians at the Gashirabowba football field, the Shangi parish, the Mibilizi parish, and the Nyamasheke parish.
The Chamber found that Imanishimwe, as the commander of Karambo military camp, issued orders to soldiers authorizing the arrest, detention, mistreatment, and execution of civilians. He was also found criminally responsible for extermination and for failing to prevent or to punish his subordinate soldiers’ participation in the massacre at the Gashirabowba football field on 12 April 1994.
Imanishimwe was found guilty of genocide, count 7 of the indictment; of murder, count 9; of extermination, count 10; of imprisonment, count 11; of torture as crimes against humanity, count 12; and of serious violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II, count 13.
The Chamber acquitted Ntagerura, noting that the Prosecutor did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the allegations in the indictment asserting criminal responsibility on his part. It also ruled that there was no credible evidence that Ntagerura expressed public support for the killings or that he acted as supervisor in Cyangugu Prefecture in 1994.
The Chamber found that the Prosecutor failed to prove the allegations supporting the crime of genocide against Bagambiki or to convincingly demonstrate that he should be held criminally responsible for the crimes based on his role as a principal perpetrator, an accomplice, or a superior.
The Chamber ruled that Bagambiki could not be held responsible for the acts of soldiers, gendarmes, or conseillers who killed Tutsi in Kagano commune because the Prosecutor failed to establish the existence of a superior-subordinate relationship between the accused and the killers.
The Chamber also acquitted Bagambiki of charges that he participated in the training of Interahamwe and that he distributed weapons to them. The Chamber found that based on the evidence presented, this allegation was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Imanishimwe was arrested in Kenya on 11 August 1997 and transferred to the Tribunal’s detention facility in Arusha on the same day. Ntagerura was arrested in Cameroon on 27 March 1996 and transferred to Arusha on 23 January 1997. Bagambiki was arrested in Togo on 5 June 1998 and transferred to Arusha on 10 July 1998.
This decision, in the “Cyangugu Case,” brings to 21 the number of accused whose trials have been completed since establishment of the Tribunal in 1994. The Tribunal has found 18 accused guilty and acquitted 3.