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RWANDA: Tribunal's appeals court sentences ex-mayor to life in prison

ARUSHA, Tanzania, 7 July 2006 (IRIN) - The Appeals chamber of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday sentenced a former Rwandan mayor to life imprisonment for his role in the 1994 genocide.

Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen, presiding, handed down the sentence to Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, in revision of an earlier 30-year jail term imposed by a trial chamber of the tribunal.

The court ruled that Gacumbitsi's public statements during the genocide encouraged "the mass killing and raping of Tutsis."

The Appeals chamber also ruled that Gacumbitsi personally supervised massacres at Nyarubuye parish, in Rwanda's Kibungo province, near the border with Tanzania. He took part in separating Tutsi refugees from Hutus so that they could be killed.

"This amounted to genocide through direct participation," the panel of five judges said in their ruling.

Rwanda's special representative to the tribunal, Alloys Mutabingwa, welcomed the ruling, saying the chamber "appropriately studied the details of the serious crimes committed by the former Rwandan mayor".

Meanwhile, the Appeals chamber reduced the sentence of a former Rwanda para-military commander, Lt. Samuel Imanishimwe, who had been jailed for 27 years in 2004. He will now serve 12 years after the appeals chamber quashed two charges of genocide and extermination.

Judge Fausto Pocar gave Imanishimwe the benefit of doubt after the prosecution failed to properly present the two charges. However, the court upheld the charges of extermination, torture and imprisonment.

Since the tribunal was set up in 1994, it has rendered 28 judgements with 25 convictions and three acquittals. The UN Security Council has set a 2008 deadline for the tribunal to complete all pending cases.

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Theme (s): Human Rights,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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