The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) today sentenced Vincent Rutaganira to 6 years imprisonment. Trial Chamber III found Rutaganira guilty of crime against humanity (extermination) for having between 14 and 17 April 1994 or thereabouts, aided and abetted by omission the attacks at Mubuga church (Gishyita commune) that resulted in thousands of deaths and numerous injuries to the Tutsi refugees within the church.
In a 6 May 1996 amended indictment, Rutaganira was charged with seven counts including genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, murder, extermination and other inhuman acts, serious violations of the Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and serious violations of Additional Protocol II.
In an agreement with the Prosecutor on 7 December 2004, Rutaganira pleaded guilty to Count 16 of the indictment charging him with extermination as an accomplice by omission to a crime against humanity. The Trial Chamber granted the Prosecutor’s request under the agreement and acquitted him on the other charges for lack of evidence.
The Trial Chamber found that in his position as a councilor in Gishyita commune, Rutaganira had knowledge of the planned massacre, was a channel between the population and the local political structure and held moral authority over the population. The Chamber found him guilty because he did not use his authority to prevent the population from participating in attacks on Tutsi nor did he provide protection and assistance to the victims.
In handing down the sentence of 6 years, the Trial Chamber took into account several mitigating circumstances including Rutaganira’s voluntary surrender to the Tribunal in March 2002, his plea of guilty, his good behavior while in detention, his advanced age of 60 and his ill health.
The Chamber also considered factors in favor of Rutaganira’s chances for rehabilitation including his expression of remorse. The Chamber also considered that Rutaganira gave assistance to some victims in Mubuga sector, that he had no previous criminal record, he did not actively participate in the killings and, lastly, restraint.
The Chamber ordered that Rutaganira shall remain in the custody of the Tribunal until adequate arrangements have been made for his transfer to the State where he will serve his sentence. It also ruled that Rutaganira is entitled to credit for the period during which he was detained in custody following his arrest on 4 March 2002, and for any additional time that he will spend in custody pending appeal, if any.
The Trial Chamber III is composed of Presiding Judge Andresia Vaz ( Senegal), Judge Flavia Lattanzi ( Italy) and Judge Florence Rita Arrey ( Cameroon).
The Prosecution team was led by Mr. Charles Adeogun-Phillips. Mr. Rutaganira was represented by Mr. François Roux from France. ICTR Prosecutor, Mr. Hassan B. Jallow was also present at today’s sentencing hearing.