Arusha Court Upholds Rwandan Musician’s 15-Year Jail Sentence
Arusha: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday upheld the 15-year prison sentence handed down on the famous Rwandan singer Simon Bikindi.
On December 2, 2008 Bikindi was found guilty of direct public incitement to commit genocide for a speech he made from a vehicle equipped with loudspeakers in late June 1994 on a road in northwestern Rwanda.
“The appeals chamber dismisses Simon Bikindi?s appeal in its entirety, affirms the conviction for direct and public incitement to commit genocide, (and) affirms the sentence of 15 years imprisonment,” presiding judge Patrick Robinson said.
The panel of five appeals judges also dismissed a prosecution appeal for a minimum sentence of 30 years.
The time Bikindi has already spent in prison since his arrest in July 2001 will be deducted from the 15 years.
The singer, dressed in white, appeared upset by the ruling and wiped away his tears with the back of his hands.
The ruling on Bikindi found that his speech in late June urged the population to kill Tutsis. He was not found guilty for his songs, even though they were at the centre of the trial.
The lower court recognised the inflammatory nature of some of Bikindi’s lyrics but emphasised they were composed before 1994, before the period for which the court has competence.
The court also found that the judges had failed to prove that the singer played a role in the broadcasting of his songs in 1994 on state radio, which used them to urge the nation to exterminate Tutsis.
Based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, the ICTR is tasked with tracking down and trying the masterminds behind the 1994 genocide.