ICTR: Bizimungu gets 30 years for subordinates’ crimes

09 July 2014 by Clive Muhenga, Arusha (Tanzania)

Former chief of staff of the Rwandan army, major general Augustin Bizimungu “knew or had reason to know” but did not act. Confounding predictions that he could be acquitted [IJT-156], the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) appeals chamber upheld, on 30 June, Bizimungu’s responsibility as a superior for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated by soldiers in Kigali and two rural provinces in 1994.

The appeal judgment reversed a number of findings by the lower chamber, including Bizimungu’s conviction for a speech he was accused of making in Ruhengeri prefecture (North). According to the trial chamber, Tutsis were killed on 7 April 1994 as a consequence of this speech. The appeals chamber found “that the trial chamber […] abused its discretion in relying on [an] uncorroborated testimony concerning Bizimungu’s participation” in the meeting, reads the judgment. 

A respected fighter in the war against the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), he was promoted to the rank of major general on 16 April 1994 by the interim government and appointed chief of staff of the Rwandan army. In their 30 June decision, the appeals judges quashed, among others, Bizimungu’s responsibility for crimes perpetrated by Interahamwe militiamen. The prosecution had not explain what the link was between the militia and the general. The lower chamber erred in finding that he “had authority and effective control over the Interahamwe who committed crimes,” the appeals judgment says.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.