For Immediate Release
ICTR-ADAD Welcomes Acquittal of Fr. Hormisdas Nsengimana on Charges of Genocide and “Genocide Planning”
Arusha, TZ - The Bureau of ICTR-ADAD (Association des Avocats de la Defense), welcomes today's Trial Chamber Judgement acquitting the second defendant in as many days. The court ordered the immediate release of Fr. Hormisdas Nsengimana, who was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda in 1994.
This week's acquittals follow the Dec. 2008 acquittal on "genocide conspiracy or planning" charges of Gen. Gratien Kabiligi and three senior military officers including the alleged mastermind of the genocide, Theoneste Bagosora. The acquittal was published in February 2009.
The lack of evidence of "planning or conspiracy to commit genocide" requires a complete re-examination of the undeniable wave of violence that swept Rwanda in 1994, and the end of a 4-year war which began when Paul Kagame's RPF army invaded from Uganda. The war exploded into mass civilian violence when Rwandan President Habyarimana, and Burundi's President Ntaryamira, were assassinated in an April 1994 missile attack on Habyarimana's plane.
Defense Counsel Emmanuel Altit (France) and David Hooper (U.K.) established that the Prosecution lacked sufficient evidence to prove that Nsengimana, who was a priest and rector of a prestigious Catholic secondary school in Butare, was at the center of a group of Hutu extremists that allegedly planned targeted attacks in 1994.
The trial court found insufficient factual and legal basis for concluding that Nsengimana was guilty of any crimes. Nsengimana's attorneys announced they would seek compensation for his years of unlawful incarceration.
ICTR Judges Møse (Norway), Sergei Egorov (Russian Federation) and Arrey (Cameroon) issued the acquittal. Judges Mose and Egorov, with Judge Jai Jam Reddy (Fiji), also acquitted the senior military officers in the Military-1 case.
In February 2009, the English edition of a memoir by former ICTR Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte confirmed major elements (it was two pages, Peter!!) of a 2007 book by her former press aide, Florence Hartmann. Both books described in detail how Ms. Del Ponte was removed from her ICTR position for insisting on fulfilling her mandate to prosecute all crimes in Rwanda in 1994. According to Del Ponte and Hartmann, the ICTR Prosecutor was called to the U.S. State Department and ordered to drop investigations of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his military because of close ties between the U.S. government and Rwanda.
Hartmann was prosecuted at the ICTY for having published the book and Del Ponte has been ordered not to discuss her book in public, according to contemporary press accounts.
ADAD – Association Des Avocats de la Defense is the association of defence lawyers at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The association was established to represent the interests of the defence teams at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and their clients. ADAD is a voluntary, independent association of lawyers from Africa, Europe and North America. It is dedicated to upholding the principles of the legal profession and the ICTR Statute and implementing documents. The ADAD website is a source for information about the ICTR and events in Rwanda and elsewhere that may be of interest to those interested in the legal and historical issues arising from the work of the ICTR. For further information, please contact members of the ADAD Bureau.