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.

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