The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] on Wednesday convicted [judgment summary, PDF; press release] former businessman Yussuf Munyakazi [case materials] on charges of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. The court found that Munyakazi was liable for the deaths of more than 5,000 Tutsi civilians during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and that he "intended to destroy the Tutsi ethnic group in whole or in part." Munyakazi had also been charged with complicity in genocide, but the court found that there was not enough evidence to convict him on the charges related to the distribution of weapons and the providing of material support to the militia involved in the killings. Rwandan authorities had sought to have Munyakazi transferred to Rwanda for trial, but that request and the subsequent appeal were both denied [JURIST report] based on concerns that the judiciary in Rwanda may not be fully independent and immune from outside pressure. Rwandan Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga criticized the decision [JURIST report] and insisted that Rwanda's judicial system was fully independent and capable of guaranteeing a fair trial. Munyakazi was sentenced to 25 years in prison and will remain in custody at the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania, pending transfer to the country where he will serve out his sentence.
The ICTR continues its work to prosecute those most responsible for the Rwandan genocide, in which nearly 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, were killed. Last month, the ICTR Appeals Chamber heard arguments in an appeal [JURIST report] filed on behalf of former Rwandan Armed Forces Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho [case materials]. Renzaho was sentenced to life in prison [judgment, PDF; JURIST report] last year after he was convicted of crimes relating to the genocide in Rwanda. Also last month, the Appeals Chamber heard arguments [JURIST report] on behalf of Emmanuel Rukundo, a priest convicted of genocide and other charges last year. In March, the 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.