International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Chronology

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | Current

14 December 2006:  In the Nzabirinda case, Joseph Nzabirinda’s guilty plea to one count of the crime against humanity of murder is accepted by the Trial Chamber. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 17, 2007.  Nzabirinda, a former businessman and youth organizer in Ngoma commune, is alleged to have participated in meetings with the Interahamwe during which plans were made to kill Tutsis, and to have encouraged attacks on Tutsi gathered at Kabakobwe Hill and at roadblocks throughout Sahera sector. The charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and the crimes against humanity of extermination and rape were previously withdrawn by the Prosecution due to a lack of evidence.

13 December 2006: In the Seromba case, Athanase Seromba, former Catholic priest of Nyange Parish, Kivumu commue, is found guilty of genocide and the crime against humanity of extermination for assisting attackers in demolishing his church while around 2000 Tutsis were sheltering in the building. He is sentenced to 15 years in prison, but will receive credit for time served since his surrender to the Tribunal in February 2002.

6 December 2006: Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a former senior Seventh-day Adventist pastor, is released from prison after serving a 10 year sentence for aiding and abetting genocide and the crime against humanity of extermination. He is the first ICTR convict to be released from custody after completing his sentence.

24 November 2006: In the Karera case, the Prosecution and Defence present their final submissions. François Karera, the former Prefect of Kigali-Rural, is charged with ordering and instigating genocide, complicity in genocide, and the crimes against humanity of extermination and murder in Rushashi commune, Nyamirambo sector, and at Ntarama Church.

15 November 2006: In the Rukundo case, the trial of Emmanuel Rukundo, a former Military Chaplain in the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR), begins. Rukundo is charged with genocide and the crimes against humanity of extermination and murder. 

13 October 2006: The United Nations Security Council extends the tenure of 18 ad litem judges until December 31, 2008.

9 October 2006:  ICTR President Judge Erik Mose presents the Tribunal’s eleventh Annual Report to the UN General Assembly. He emphasizes the need for member states to accept trial transfers, noting that 4 out of the 5 Rwandans acquitted by the Tribunal remain in protective custody without a country of residence. Additionally, he calls the unwillingness of member states to arrest suspects the Tribunal’s biggest stumbling block.

9 October 2006: The Tribunal appoints seven Rwandan lawyers to the list of available defense counsel.  They are the only Rwandan lawyers acting in this capacity after the resignation of Callixte Gakwaya last month.

 27 September 2006: Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow and representatives of 25 diplomatic missions meet with Kenyan government officials to discuss the urgency in apprehending ICTR indicteee Felicien Kabuga, who is believed to be living in Kenya. Kabuga is said to have been a major financial contributor to extremist Hutu political parties and their militias, and has thus been characterized as the “financier” of the genocide.

25 September 2006:  In the Nchamihigo case, the trial of Siméon Nchamihigo, former Deputy Prosecutor in Cyangugu Prefecture, begins. Nchamihigo is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity (extermination, murder, and other inhumane acts) for allegedly recruiting, arming and ordering the Interahamwe militia to massacre Tutsi civilians and members of the Hutu opposition. Nchamihigo had previously worked under the name Bahati Weza as an ICTR investigator for the defence of Samuel Imanishimwe before being recognized and reported in 2001.  This is the first time the ICTR has tried someone who has worked at the tribunal.

20 September 2006: In the Rwamakuba case, the judgment is delivered.  Rwamakuba, a minister of Primary  and  Secondary Education in the Interim government and a member of the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR) of Gikomero commune, Kigali-Rural prefecture, is acquitted on all charges. Rwamakuba  was  charged  with  genocide,  or  alternatively,  complicity in genocide,  and  crimes against humanity (extermination  and  murder) with regard to acts committed in April 1994 at Gikomero commune  and  Butare University Hospital. Rwamakuba admitted that massacres were committed in these locations but disputed his involvement. The Chamber found that the Prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

18 September 2006:  In the Munyakazi case, the Court accepts the resignation of defense counsel Callixte Gakwaya. Rwandan authorities have accused Gakwaya of participation in the genocide, and he was recently arrested and released by Tanzanian authorities.

18 September 2006:  In the Bikindi case, the trial begins. Simon Bikindi, a well known singer and composer of popular music as well as an official in Ministry of Youth and Sports and a member of the Mouvement Républicain National pour le Développement et la Démocratie (MRND) political party in Gisenyi Prefecture, is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide or in the alternative complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity (murder and persecution). In his opening statement, Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow says that through the lyrical content of his music Bikindi consciously and deliberately assisted in executing the plan to exterminate Tutsis by mobilizing youth, including members of his ballet, to commit atrocities and join the Interahamwe and by using his fame to promote hatred and death. 

15 September 2006: Judge Robert Fremr (Czech Republic) is sworn in as ad litem judge Judge Fremr replaces Judge Flavia Lattanzi (Italy).

12 September 2006: In the Muvunyi case, the Trial Chamber finds former commander of the Rwandan military school Tharcisse Muvunyi guilty of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and the crime against humanity of other inhumane acts, and not guilty of the crime against humanity of rape. The Chamber sentences Muvunyi to 25-years imprisonment, with a six and a half year credit for time-served.

12 September 2006: In the Mpambara case, the Trial Chamber acquits Jean Mpambara of all charges. Mpambara, the former bourgmestre of Bukara, was indicted for genocide or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide, and the crime against humanity of extermination.

11 September 2006: In the Bikindi case, the start of trial of Simon Bikindi, an entertainer accused of using his music to promote the murder of Tutsis, is delayed until September 18.

6 September 2006: Defense Counsel Gakwaya is released from Tanzanian custody.

1 September 2006: Tanzanian authorities arrest Callixte Gakwaya, lead defense counsel for Yusuf Munyakasi. ICTR Registrar Adama Dieng says that the Tribunal was not consulted beforehand and notes that Tribunal personnel are provided with certain immunities under an agreement between the United Nations and Tanzania. The arrest apparently comes under the authority of a warrant from the Rwandan prosecutor’s office alleging Gakwaya’s involvement in the genocide.

31 August 2006: In the Bagaragaza case, the Appeals Chamber rejects the Prosecutor’s appeal against the decision of a three-judge panel not to approve his Rule 11 bis request to move the trial to Norway.

23 August 2006: In the Karera case, the Defense closes its case in the trial of François Karera, former Prefect of Kigali-Rural.

21 August 2006: Joseph Serugendo, sentenced to 6 years imprisonment in June 2006 after pleading guilty to incitement to commit genocide and the crime against humanity of persecution, dies in a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, after a long terminal illness.

16 August 2006: The Rwandan government announces that it is considering a draft law that would exempt genocide suspects found abroad from the death penalty in the hopes of encouraging both foreign countries and the ICTR to transfer suspects to it for trial.

7 July 2006: In the Gacambitsi case, the Appeals Chamber dismisses Sylvestre Gacambitsi’s appeal in its entirety and allows the Prosecution’s appeal in part, finding Gacambitsi responsible for ordering acts of genocide and the crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, and rape not only by the communal police, but also by other perpetrators who participated in the attacks at Nyarubuye Parish and at Kigarama. The Appeals Chamber also finds that Gacambitsi aided and abetted the murder of his two Tutsi tenants and enters a new conviction for the crime against humanity of murder. His sentence is consequently increased from 30 years to life imprisonment.

7 July 2006: In the Ntagerura et al. case, the Appeals Chamber quashes Samuel Imanishimwe’s convictions for genocide, the crime against humanity of extermination, and serious violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Protocol II related to the events at Gashirabwoba football stadium, and upholds his convictions for the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, and torture. The Chamber consequently reduces Imanishimwe’s sentence from 27 to 12 years imprisonment.

28 June 2006: In the Seromba case, the Prosecution and the Defence present their final submissions to the Trial Chamber.

16 June 2006: In the Karemara et al. case, the Appeals Chamber rules that the Trial Chambers must take judicial notice of the following facts, which the prosecutor will no longer be required to prove in each case:

    i. The existence of Twa, Tutsi and Hutu as protected groups falling under the Genocide Convention;
    ii. The following state of affairs existed in Rwanda between 6 April 1994 to 17 July 1994: there were throughout Rwanda widespread or systematic attacks against a civilian population based on Tutsi ethnic identification. During the attacks, some Rwandan citizens killed or caused serious bodily or mental harm to person[s] perceived to be Tutsi. As a result of the attacks, there were a large number of deaths of persons of Tutsi ethnic identity;
    iii. Between 6 April 1994 and 17 July 1994 there was genocide in Rwanda against Tutsi ethnic group.

14 June 2006: The UN Security Council extends the mandate of all eleven permanent judges of the ICTR until December 28, 2008 in order to facilitate the Tribunal's completion strategy.

7 June 2006: In his bi-yearly report to the Security Council, Prosecutor Jallow confirms that indictee Felicien Kabuga, accused of being a key financier of and supplying weapons for the genocide, continues to reside in Kenya. Jallow says that efforts to arrest Kabuga and the 17 other fugitives have been hampered by a lack of international cooperation. Jallow also emphasizes that the Trial Chamber's rejection of his office's first 11bis motion, requesting the transfer of a case to Norway, "significantly limits the range of countries available for referral and in this respect could impact negatively on the referral strategy." Nevertheless, the OTP continues to negotiate with several European and African States to encourage their acceptance of 11bis referrals. While some countries are willing in principle to accept referred cases, the adequacy of their judicial capacity remains open to question. Rwanda continues to seek referral and is undertaking measures to ensure its eligibility. To contribute to capacity building in the Rwandan legal system the OTP has seven Rwandan lawyers working in its office, as well as Rwandan investigators and language assistants.

2 June 2006: The President of the ICTR rejects Vincent Rutaganira's request for early release.

2 June 2006: In the Serugendo case, Joseph Serugendo is sentenced to six years imprisonment. A former member of the governing board of the Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines, Serugendo pled guilty to direct and public incitement to commit genocide and persecution as a crime against humanity.

19 May 2006: In the Bagaragaza case, a three-judge panel denies the prosecution request to transfer the case against Michel Bagaragaza to Norway, saying that Norway lacks jurisdiction over the alleged crimes in the indictment.

3 May 2006: In the Mpambara case, the prosecution and defense present their final submissions to the Trial Chamber with regard to Jean Mpambara, the former bourgmestre of Rukara commune in Kibungo prefecture.

27 April 2006: In the Seromba case, the Defense closes its case.

21 April 2006: In the Rwamakuba case, the prosecution and defense present their final submissions to the Trial Chamber with regard to André Rwamakuba, former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.

13 April 2006: In the Bisengimana case, the ICTR sentences Paul Bisengimana, former Bourgmestre of Gikoro Commune, to 15 years imprisonment for the crime against humanity of extermination. In December 2005, Bisengimana pled guilty to aiding and abetting the killing of more than a thousand Tutsi seeking refuge at Musha church.

7 April 2006: In the Military I case, trial is adjourned until May 15.

24 March 2006: In the Karemera et al. case, the trial is adjourned until May 15.

17 March 2006: Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete meets with ICTR President Erik Møse, Prosecutor Hassan Jallow, and Registrar Adama Dieng, to discuss the progress of the ICTR trials and the Tribunal's completion strategy.

16 March 2006: Adama Dieng, the ICTR Registrar, meets with several high-level Rwandan diplomats for three days in an effort to improve the exchange of information between Rwanda and the ICTR.

7 March 2006: The Rwandan government announces that it will prosecute Emmanuel Bagambiki for rape and sexual violence as a crime against humanity. The ICTR acquitted the former governor of Cyangugu province in February 2006. The government is asking the ICTR for assistance in transferring Bagambiki from Arusha to Rwanda.

15 February 2006: In the Bagaragaza case, the Prosecutor requests that Michel Bagaragaza, the former director-general of the office controlling Rwanda’s tea industry and a high-level member of the MRND, be tried in Norway. The request marks the first time the Prosecutor has filed a Rule 11 bis motion asking that an indictee be tried before a domestic court. Bagaragaza has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit genocide and genocide, or alternatively complicity in genocide. Since neither genocide nor complicity in genocide are crimes under Norwegian law, if the request is granted Bagaragaza is likely to be prosecuted as an accessory to homicide under the Norwegian General Civil Penal Code and face a maximum sentence of 21 years.

13 February 2006: In the Butare case, the defense begins its case. Former Rwandan minister of Family Affairs Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, her son Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, and four other people are accused of involvement in killings in Butare Prefecture in southern Rwanda.

10 February 2006: In the Bagosora case, UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, grants permission to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, UN Secretary-General during the 1994 genocide, to testify as a defense witness.

9 February 2006: In the Rwamakuba case, the defense closes its case. Andre Rwamakuba, former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, has pled not guilty to genocide, complicity in genocide, and two counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination). Rwamakuba is accused of supervising and participating in the massacures of Tutsi civilians in Gikomero commune and at the National University Hospital of Rwanda.

9 February 2006: In the Mpambara case, the defense closes its case. Jean Mpambara, the former bourgmestre of Rukara commune in Kibungo Prefecture, is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity.

8 February 2006: In the Cyangugu case, the Appeals Chamber affirms the acquittal of Andre Ntagerura and Emmanuel Bagambiki for lack of evidence. This is only the second trial in which an accused has been acquitted since the ICTR was established in 1994.

3 February 2006: In the Karera case, the Prosecution closes its case against François Karera, subject to cross-examination of one witness and the submission of an expert report. The Defense case is scheduled to commence in May 2006.

January 2006: The Judicial Records and Archives Unit of the ICTR transfers the first set of case file records, transcripts, and photographic and audiovisual evidence and records to the United Nations Archives and Records Management Section (UN ARMS) repository in New York. An agreement between the ICTR and UN provides that, “all judicial records of the ICTR will be retained permanently and transferred to UN ARMS one year after the completion of any appeals proceedings.”

29 January 2006: ICTR President Erik Møse requests that Charles Munyaneza, a former Rwandan government official living in Britain under a false name, be arrested and prosecuted in Britain on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Møse says that if the Tribunal was able to issue new indictments, his office would seek Munyaneza’s extradition and offers to make available to the British courts all evidence in his possession relating to Munyaneza’s alleged crimes.

23 January 2006: In the Zigiranyirazo case, trial resumes after a three-month break. Protais Zigiranyirazo, known as “Mr. Z,” was the governor of the Ruhengeri province and is charged with five counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

23 January 2006: In the Military II, Butare, and several other cases, eight accused boycott their trials to protest the death of Juvenal Uwingiliyimana, a genocide suspect and informant for the Tribunal who was found dead in Brussels in December 2005, claiming that Tribunal investigators have coerced witnesses into providing false testimony and threatened them with indictments if they fail to cooperate. Forty of the 59 accused in custody in the UN detention facilities have asked the Belgian authorities to investigate the ICTR officials who interviewed Uwingiliyimana shortly before his death. All trials continued in the absence of the accused.

16 January 2006: The Military II trial resumes after being adjourned on the 24th of October 2005.

9 January 2006: The Karera trial begins. Francois Karera, the former governor of Kigali, is charged with four counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. He is also accused of playing a leading role in the massacres of Tutsi civilians in and around Kigali, including the killing of hundreds of Tutsis who had sought refuge in a church at Ntarama in April 1994. Karera has pleaded not guilty to all charges.