ICTR sets free ex-Rwandan Gendarmerie chief of staff Ndindiliyimana
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of former chief of staff of Rwandan Gendarmerie, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, and sentenced army General Augustin Bizimungu to 30 years imprisonment for genocide.
Meanwhile, ex-commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, a member of the unit, jointly charged with the two generals, were ordered to remain behind bars for 20 years each after being convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Ndindiliyimana was released after a Trial Chamber sentenced him to time served since his arrest in Belgium on January 29, 2000 after finding his mitigating factors warranting.
“The Chamber has noted Ndindiliyimana’s limited command over the gendarmerie after April 6, 1994, his consistent support for the Arusha accords and peaceful resolution of conflict between the Rwandan government forces and the RPF and his opposition to the massacres in Rwanda,” presiding Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva said.
For other convicts, the judge said, would also receive credit for the time they served since their arrests. Bizimungu was arrested in Angola on August 2, 2002, while Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu were apprehended in France and Denmark, respectively, on February 15, 2000.
The two generals were convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for offenses perpetrated by military soldiers and gendarmes under their command in 1994.
In addition, Bizimungu was found to have made a speech in Mukingo Commune, calling for start of killing of Tutsis in Ruhengeri prefecture.
For Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu, the Chamber convicted them of crime against humanity and war crimes committed by their subordinates. The duo ordered the killing of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and failed to punish perpetrators involved in killing 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers, on April 7, 1994, the judgement added.
In his reaction, ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Jallow said they would study the judges reasoning in assessment of sentences imposed to each accused and decide whether they would appeal or not.
However, he said, “We are quite satisfied with the findings. The judgement is very important to all persons in position of leadership, especially military commanders. As clearly established, superiors will be held legally responsible for acts of their subordinates.”
Ndindiliyimana, on his part, expressed his happiness for being released after remaining in detention for 11 years. His lawyer, Christopher Black, joined his client for the happiness.
Defence Counsels Charles Taku and Fabien Segatwa, for Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu, respectively, said they would appeal against the verdict.