Arusha changes its tune

25 September 2006 by Thierry Cruvellier

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has handed down three decisions in two weeks. Two of the defendants, a former mayor and a former minister, were acquitted. The third, a former officer, was found guilty of genocide and sentenced to 25 years in prison. However these verdicts are not nearly as striking as the new clear and firm tone some of the judges have adopted.

In June 2001, an ICTR trial chamber found a former mayor not guilty of genocide in a landmark 2-1 decision following eight months of deliberations. The meticulous 330-page ruling, which was soft on witnesses who may not have had their facts straight, immediately attached such strict conditions to the defendant's release that it took a year before he felt he had been truly cleared. Five years later, on September 11, 2006, three ICTR judges again acquitted a former Rwandan mayor. This time, however, the judges' decision was unanimous following only four months of deliberations, and the 66- page ruling, which was harsh on the witnesses who had lied, grants the defendant unconditional liberty.

No restrictions on Mpambara's movements after his acquittal

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