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ICTR acquittal of Zigiranyirazo shocked Rwanda: minister


KIGALI — The acquittal by the UN court for Rwanda of a brother-in-law of former president Juvenal Habyarimana, an alleged planner of the Rwandan genocide, “shocked” Rwanda, the justice minister said Friday.

Tharcisse Karugarama was speaking on national radio following the announcement of the extension to December 31, 2012 of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) mandate to judge appeals.

The decision was taken Wednesday by the UN Security Council.

The minister lashed out at the ICTR for last month acquitting Protais Zigiranyirazo, better known as Mr Z, a brother-in-law of the late president Habyarimana.

“This acquittal decision shocked the Rwandan nation and the Rwandan people and perhaps also Zigiranyirazo himself: he knows he’s not innocent,” Karugarama said.

“The court has become a place for legal play acting,” added the minister, reiterating Kigali’s affirmation that Zigiranyirazo was one of the main planners of the genocide carried out against the Tutsi in 1994.

In a letter dated December 7 the genocide survivors’ association Ibuka asked the Rwandan government “urgently to take the measures necessary to prevent the ICTR from continuing its policy of trivialising the genocide” through its rulings.

“The serial acquittals of former political and military figures who undeniably played a role in the planning and the carrying out of the genocide of the Tutsis and crimes against humanity speak volumes,” the group said.

As well as Zigiranyirazo, seven other Rwandan political figures have been acquitted by the ICTR, including former Transport Minister Andre Ntagerura and former Education Minister Andre Rwamakuba.

Ibuka says such acquittals “serve to encourage the phenomenon of negationism that is developing in the West through a network of lobby groups headed by ICTR defence lawyers, university professors and journalists”.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.



Brandon Henander
Brandon Henander

Brandon lives in Chicago and works as a Project Coordinator for Illinois Legal Aid Online. He has a LL.M. in International Law and International Relations from Flinders University in Adelaide. Brandon has worked as a lobbyist for Amnesty International Australia and as an intern for U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science, Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Iowa. His interests include American and Asian politics, human rights, war crimes and the International Criminal Court.