The UN court for Rwanda upheld a 30-year jail term for former army chief Augustin Bizimungu on June 30 for his role in the 1994 genocide during which he called for the murder of minority Tutsis.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) “unanimously affirmed the sentence of 30 years in prison,” Judge Theodor Meron said, as the former general stood to hear his appeal dismissed in the courtroom in Tanzania.
Bizimungu was appealing a sentence imposed in May 2011. He is among the most senior figures to be tried by the Tanzania-based tribunal for the genocide in which 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were killed.
The court found Bizimungu had complete control over the men he commanded, who were involved in the massacres that started in the night of April 6, 1994.
It also found him guilty of making a speech the following day in which he called for the killing of ethnic Tutsis, just a few days before he was made army chief.
Bizimungu claimed during his appeal hearing that he had “urged military discipline and respect for the dignity of human life.” But prosecutor Abdoulaye Seye asked for a heavier sentence.
The ICTR, based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, was established in late 1994 to try the perpetrators of Rwanda’s genocide. It is tasked only with trying those who bear the greatest responsibility for the genocide, but is now wrapping up its work.
Less senior officials and ordinary citizens accused of taking part have been tried in Rwanda.
Augustin Bizimungu (born 28 August 1952) is a former general in the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR). In 1994, he briefly served as chief of staff of the army. During this time, he trained the soldiers and militiamen who carried out the Rwandan Genocide.
Bizimungu was born in Byumba preacutefecture, Mukaranje Commune, Mugina Secteur, Nyange Cellule, Rwanda.
An ethnic Hutu, Bizimungu held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the FAR on 6 April 1994. That day, following the death of army chief of staff Deacuteogratias Nsabimana in a plane crash alongside President Juveacutenal Habyarimana, Bizimungu was promoted to Major-General and appointed as permanent chief of the army.
Upon fleeing the country following the RPF victory, he allegedly said “the RPF will rule over a desert.”
On 12 April 2002, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) issued an arrest warrant for Bizimungu, who was apparently working with the Angolan rebel movement UNITA. In August 2002, he was arrested by the Angolan government and taken to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in Tanzania. The trial adjourned until September 2008, whereupon Bizimungu was tried along with fellow FAR officers Augustin Ndindiliyimana (Chief of Staff of the National Gendarmerie), Franccedilois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye (Commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion of the Rwandan Army) and Innocent Sagahutu (Second-in-Command of the Reconnaissance Battalion of the Rwandan Army). Bizimungu was sentenced to thirty years in prison for his part in the genocide on 17 May 2011. Bizimungu is portrayed by Fana Mokoena in the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda.
Source : The Independent