ICTR starts its final case

19 April 2015 by Stephanie van den Berg

Due to close its door permanently this year [IJT-172], the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), started its final trial last week in the appeals case involving six ex-officials of the former province of Butare.

Image from Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre (Photo: Flickr/trocaire)
Image caption: 
Image from Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre (Photo: Flickr/trocaire)

Among the six defendants in the case is former minister for family affairs and women’s development Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the first female ever to be tried and convicted by an international war crimes court. The ICTR's sister court for the former Yugoslavia, the ICTY, convicted former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic for war crimes but this was following a plea bargain she struck with prosecutors.

Nyiramasuhuko was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide itself, extermination, rape, persecution, violence to life, other inhumane acts and outrages to human dignity. According to the judgement, the minister had command responsibility over Hutu Interahamwe militia who committed rapes in the offices of the Butare prefect.

The trial, which started in 2001, is one of the lengthiest in international justice. A verdict is not expected before this August, which means the trial would have lasted 14 years. Nyiramasuhuko will have spent 16 years in detention waiting for the case to go through the courts.

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