Appeals Chamber Upholds Father-Son Conviction

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Monday upheld the sentencing of a father and son duo found guilty of genocide by the tribunal last year.

The five judges of the chamber headed by Judge Theodor Meron of the USA, confirmed the ten year jail sentence handed down to Pastor Elisaphan Ntakirutimana and 25 years to his son Dr. Gerald Ntakirutimana.

Pastor Ntakirutimana, 80, was the president of the West Rwanda Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) area at the time of the genocide. He was based at Mugonero SDA complex in Kibuye province. His son, Doctor Ntakirutimana, 46, was a doctor at the SDA hospital in the complex.

The two were found guilty of conveying attackers to Mugonero complex and Bisesero hills to kill hundreds of predominantly ethnic Tutsi men, women and children who had taken refugee in the complex. The refugees were fleeing from attacks by extremist Hutu militias.

Doctor Ntakirutimana was also found guilty of at least two murders and direct participation in several attacks in the Bisesero area in Kibuye. “By these acts, in particular transporting and encouraging attackers, Elisaphan Ntakirutimana knowingly participated in the massacres of Tutsis in Bisesero”, judge Meron ruled.

Dr Gerald Ntakirutimana was also found guilty of personal participation in the massacres in relation to the killing of Charles Ukobizaba.The chamber found that these acts “were committed with the knowledge that they were part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Tutsi civilian population”.

Unlike his son, the frail pastor was not as emotional as his son who struggled to hold back tears as the judge read out the ruling. Pastor Ntakirutimana is the first clergymen detained by the ICTR to go on trial. He was arrested in Texas, USA, on September 29th, 1996. He was transferred to the ICTR on March 24th, 2000 after loosing a protracted legal battle against his extradition.

A month after Pastor Ntakirutimana’s arrest, his son was arrested in Ivory Coast. He was transferred to the ICTR two days later. Both pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The trial began in September 2001 and closed in August 2002.Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark was appearing for Pastor Ntakirutimana while his son was represented by David Jacobs from Canada.

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