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Quebec appeals court upholds conviction of Rwandan war criminal

[JURIST] The Court of Appeal of Quebec [official website] on Wednesday upheld [judgment, PDF, in French] the conviction of Rwandan Hutu Desire Munyaneza [Trial Watch profile] for war crimes committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Munyaneza was convicted in May 2009 and sentenced [JURIST reports] the following October for seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes under Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act [text, PDF]. An appeal was filed almost immediately after his conviction, alleging poorly defined charges, irregularities by the trial judge and non-credible witnesses. The high court dismissed these arguments, finding that they had no merit. Munyaneza will serve life in prison, with eligibility for parole after 25 years.

Munyaneza moved to Toronto in 1997 and was denied refugee status because Canadian officials suspected him of involvement in the Rwandan genocide. He was arrested [JURIST report] in 2005 by the Canadian Royal Mounted Police [official website] after a five-year investigation by its war crimes unit and the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [official website]. The trial, which was briefly postponed [JURIST report] after Munyaneza was beaten by a fellow prison inmate, lasted two years and included evidence from multiple nations. International legal observers expect Munyaneza's trial to set precedent for future war crimes litigation.

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