International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Tribunal pénal international pour le Rwanda)


Communication Cluster III

(non official – for media information only)

Arusha, 18 December 2008

Protais Zigiranyirazo Sentenced to 20 Years Imprisonment

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, Iskandar Ismail, Brian Wallace, Iain Morley, Slyver Ntukamazina, Gina Butler and Jane Mukangira.

Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva given life sentences;
Kabiligi acquitted

Trial Chamber I today rendered judgement in the “Military I” case involving four senior officers of the Rwandan army in 1994: Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, Director of Cabinet in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence; General Gratien Kabiligi, head of the military operations bureau (G-3) of the army general staff; Major Aloys Ntabakuze, commander of the Para Commando Battalion; and Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, commander of the Operational Sector of Gisenyi.

It sentenced Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes based on their role in crimes committed in Rwanda. The Chamber acquitted Kabiligi of all charges against him and ordered his release. It also acquitted each of the Accused of conspiring to commit genocide before 7 April 1994.

The Chamber found that, in the first days after the death of President Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, Bagosora was the highest authority in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence with authority over the Rwandan military. He was considered responsible for the killing, on 7 April, of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, Joseph Kavaruganda, the President of the Constitutional Court, as well as Frédéric Nzamurambaho, Landoald Ndasingwa and Faustin Rucogoza, who were opposition party officials and government ministers. He was found guilty in connection with the killing of ten Belgian peacekeepers who were killed by soldiers at Camp Kigali on 7 April. Bagosora was also responsible for the organised killings perpetrated by soldiers and militiamen at a number of sites throughout Kigali and Gisenyi between 6 and 9 April.

Ntabakuze was found guilty, as the commander of the elite Para Commando Battalion, for the participation of his soldiers in killings at Kabeza, Nyanza Hill and the L’Institut Africain et Mauricien de Statistiques et d’Economie (IAMSEA) in Kigali.

Nsengiyumva was considered responsible for massacres at Mudende University, Nyundo Parish as well as the targeted killing of civilians in Gisenyi prefecture, the area under his operational command. He was also guilty of sending militiamen to the Bisesero area of Kibuye prefecture to kill Tutsi refugees in June 1994.

The Prosecution alleged that Kabiligi participated in the distribution of weapons, meetings to plan the genocide as well as a number of specific crimes, many of which were related to roadblocks in the Kigali area. Kabiligi advanced a successful alibi for much of this time period. It was also not proven that he had operational authority or that he targeted civilians.

The trial opened on 2 April 2002 before Trial Chamber III. After the non-reelection of one judge and the announced retirement of another, the case was transferred with the consent of the Accused in June 2003 to Trial Chamber I, composed of Judges Erik Møse of Norway (presiding), Sergei Alekseevich Egorov of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji.

A total of 242 witnesses were heard during the trial, 82 for the Prosecution and 160 for the Defence. The trial concluded after 408 days. More than 300 written judicial decisions were issued during the course of the proceedings. In parallel with this trial, the judges heard nine single-accused cases.

Protais Zigiranyirazo was assisted by John Philpot (Canada) and Peter Zaduk (Canada) while the Prosecution was led by Wallace Kapaya (Tanzania) assisted by Charity Kagwi-Ndungu (Kenya) , Iskandar Ismail (Malaysia), Brian Wallace (Jamaica), Iain Morley (England), Slyver Ntukamazina (Burundi), Gina Butler (USA) and Jane Mukangira (Rwanda).

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