Arusha, April 1, 2011 (FH) – The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Friday confirmed the 15 years imprisonment sentence imposed on former Rwandan military officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, for direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
“The Appeals Chamber, Judges Liu (Daqun) and (Theodor) Meron dissenting, dismisses Muvunyi appeals in all respect and affirms the sentence of 15 years of imprisonment imposed on (him) by the Trial Chamber,” announced presiding Judge Patrick Robinson.
Muvunyi, who was based at the Non-Commissioned Officers School (ESO), was convicted of direct and public incitement to commit genocide for giving a speech at Gikore Centre, Butare Prefecture (Southern Rwanda) in May, 1994, allegedly leading to killings of Tutsis.
The Chamber dismissed all his two grounds of appeal. “The variance between the indictment date range of early May 1994 and the Trial Chamber’s finding that the event occurred in mid to late May 1994 is not significant,” the Chamber ruled.
Muvunyi, in his arguments, had submitted that the indictment specifically pleaded a meeting at the beginning of May 1994 whereas the evidence presented at the trial concerned a different event that took place no sooner than mid June 1994.
He had also argued that the Trial Chamber committed errors in assessing evidence related to his participation in the meeting and failed to apply appropriate causation in assessing evidence of witnesses who actively participated in genocide in which the prosecution had exclusively relied on them.
In its decision, however, the Appeals Chamber said it identified no error in the Trial Chamber’s reliance on accomplice evidence or evidence of other individuals who participated in the genocide.
“A Trial Chamber has the discretion to rely on such evidence, provided it exercises appropriate caution. The Appeals Chamber is not convinced that the Trial Chamber failed to apply appropriate caution to this category of evidence,” it ruled.
The Chamber also dismissed the appeal by the prosecution, seeking enhancement of the 15 years imprisonment to 25, for Trial Chamber’s failure to assess, among others, the gravity of crimes Muvunyi was convicted of and gave insufficient weight of aggravating circumstances.
It said that, “The Appeals Chamber finds no error in the Trial Chamber’s assessment of these facts.”
The 15-year-jail term was given by a Trial Chamber against Muvunyi on February 11, 2010, after the Appeals Chamber quashed his first conviction and 25 years imprisonment sentence against him for genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and other inhumane acts.
The Appeals Chamber had ordered a retrial on direct and public incitement to commit genocide count, specifically on the speech Muvunyi made at Gikore Commercial Centre.
© Hirondelle News Agency