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Rwanda genocide tribunal hears appeal of convicted former colonel

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] heard arguments [press release] Wednesday in an appeal filed on behalf of former Rwandan Armed Forces Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho [case materials; Trial Watch profile]. Renzaho was sentenced to life in prison [judgment, PDF; JURIST report] last year after he was convicted of crimes relating to the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Renzaho's lawyer argued [AFP report, in French] that the defense's key witnesses faced threats and intimidation while in Rwanda, which prevented Renzaho from receiving a fair trial. Renzaho wants the court to overturn his convictions and order his release or reduce his life sentence. The prosecution opposes the relief sought and is asking that the appeal be dismissed.

The ICTR continues its work to prosecute those most responsible for the Rwandan genocide, in which nearly 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, were killed. On Tuesday, the ICTR Appeals Chamber heard arguments [JURIST report] on behalf of Emmanuel Rukundo, a priest convicted of genocide and other charges last year. In March, the ICTR Appeals Chamber affirmed [JURIST report] the genocide conviction of popular Rwandan singer-songwriter Simon Bikindi. Also in March, the Appeals Chamber reversed several convictions against Rwandan district attorney Simeon Nchamihigo including murder and extermination as crimes against humanity and three counts of genocide. Both Bikindi and Nchamihigo are being held in the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania, pending their transfer to the countries where they will serve their sentences.

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