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Rwanda genocide tribunal affirms convictions, reduces sentences for war crimes

The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] affirmed most convictions of two accused war criminals Thursday but slightly reduced their respective sentences. Emmanuel Rukundo [JURIST news archive], a priest convicted of genocide, had his sentence reduced from 25 to 23 years of imprisonment [judgment, PDF]. The chamber also reversed Rukundo's conviction for genocide by causing serious mental harm to a Tutsi woman when he sexually assaulted her. Former Rwandan interior minister Callixte Kalimanzira [JURIST news archive], who was convicted of aiding and abetting genocide, had his sentence reduced from 30 to 25 years in prison [judgment, PDF]. The chamber reversed Kalimanzira's other convictions after finding several factual and legal errors in the trial chamber's assessment.

The Trial Chamber originally found that Rukundo, while serving as a military chaplain and captain in the Rwandan Armed Forces, used his position as a priest to influence troops to abduct and kill Tutsi refugees who were hiding in the Saint Leon Seminary during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW Backgrounder]. Kalimanzira's trial began in May 2008 after he surrendered to authorities and pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] in November 2005. The ICTR continues it work to prosecute those most responsible for the Rwandan genocide, in which nearly 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, were killed. Representatives from the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) appeared before the UN General Assembly (UNGA) earlier this month to request additional financial resources and institutional support [JURIST report].

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