Media trial: tough blow for the prosecutor on appeal

03 December 2007 by our correspondent in Arusha

When, on November 28, the appeals judges in the Media trial overruled the convictions based on evidence prior to 1994—the start of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)—they seriously undermined the foundation of the prosecutor's thesis regarding conspiracy to commit genocide. This decision may convince him to revise his strategy in the trials currently underway, but it falls too late for the Military trial, in which the ICTR is deliberating in the case of leading defendant Théoneste Bagosora.

On December 3, 2003, the ICTR trial chamber ruled that there had been "a conspiracy to commit genocide" between the RTLM radio station, the Kangura newspaper and the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (CDR). The judges were convinced on this point by the prosecutor, who cited hatefilled radio broadcasts and extremist newspaper publications prior to 1994. Despite the defense teams' protests throughout the trial, the trial chamber concluded that the crimes of conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide were crimes that happened over time "until the planned acts were committed" and that, since the genocide happened in 1994, the ICTR had jurisdiction to try these crimes.

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