Rwandan genocide convicts imprisoned in Mali reportedly living “lavishly”
BBC Monitoring Africa
December 06, 2012
Text of report by Edwin Musoni entitled “ICTR genocide convicts in Mali operate businesses” in English by Rwandan newspaper The New Times website on 5 December
Genocide convicts who were sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and transferred to Mali to serve their sentences are living a lavish life and running businesses in Mali, The New Times has learnt.
The 14 convicts, including the former prime minister of the genocidal regime, Jean Kambanda, run businesses in Mali`s capital Bamako and are also believed to have special helpers who are not part of the prison arrangement working for them in their cells.
The New Times also learnt that the convicts move out of their cells unguarded to visit their friends and families living in Mali at their convenient time. The convicts are in Koulikoro Prison, located just outside Bamako.
The spokesperson of the Rwandan Prosecution, Alain Mukuralinda, confirmed that they have received similar reports, adding that Rwanda is aware of the disturbing revelations.
“We have information from highly credible sources that indeed these prisoners are living such a lavish life,” said Mukuralinda.
Asked if Rwanda has informed the Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) that is primarily charged with the conditions of the prisoners, Mukuralinda said that Rwanda is still verifying the claims and would inform the MICT after gathering all the evidence.
Established by the UN, the MICT is an organ mandated to carry out essential functions and to maintain the legacy of the Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia.
“It is not a surprise that this is happening because they are detained in an insecure country that may care less about the situation of prisoners. Also the ICTR`s choice of Mali as a place for such high level prisoners to serve their sentence was questionable in the first place,” said Mukuralinda.
He however hastened to add that; “The enforcers of the sentence handed to these prisoners are the ones to blame.”
Responding to the allegations, in an email sent to The New Times, yesterday, MICT Registrar, John Hocking, could neither deny nor confirm the reports.
Hocking`s office is in charge of enforcing the sentence handed to the prisoners.
“I am not in a position to provide any further detail on security matters. Mali has been a state of enforcement for ICTR sentences since 2001. The conditions of detention of the ICTR convicts in Mali have been regularly inspected by a highly reputable international monitoring body,” reads the email.
He explained that on 1 July, the MICT inherited from the ICTR the supervision of enforcement of sentences pronounced by the tribunal.
The email also adds that the MICT is committed to undertaking this mandate in accordance with its rules and the applicable international standards.
“It has already conducted missions to the Enforcement States and engaged the services of an independent international expert on penitentiary matters to provide recommendations for any improvements which may be desirable or necessary to any existing practices,” he said.
However, in a counter reaction, Mukuralinda said that Hocking should have admitted or rejected the claims because “a yes or a no wouldn`t be a security breach.”
“We are expecting top leaders of the MICT in Kigali sometime later this month and this is one of the issues we will raise to them,” said Mukuralinda.
Among the prisoners serving their sentence, eight of them are serving a life sentence and these are; Jean Kambanda, Jean Paul Akayesu, Mikaeli Muhimana, Alfred Musema, Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda.
Sylvestre Gacumbitsi and Samuel Imanishimwe are serving 30 years and 27 years sentence, while Paul Bisengimana, Obed Ruzindana and Laurent Semanza were sentenced to 25 years each. Omar Serushago is serving 15 years.
The New Times is yet to know details on the convicts` businesses and names of their salaried employees.
When The New Times contacted the ICTR Spokesperson Roland Amoussouga he confirmed that the enforcement of the prison sentence is currently under the office of the MICT Registrar John Hoking and that he would not comment on something that is not in his mandate.
In the past the ICTR had been criticised over the controversial decision it took in determining where the 15 key convicts would serve their prison sentences without consulting Rwanda.
Source: The New Times website, Kigali, in English 5 Dec 12
© 2012 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Nine Rwandan convicts transferred to Benin
Agence France Presse
July 01, 2009
Nine people definitively convicted by the UN-backed international court trying suspected ringleaders in Rwanda`s 1994 genocide have been transferred to Benin, an official said Wednesday.
The transfer of the nine to serve out their sentences on conviction of crimes against humanity and genocide took place last Saturday, said Roland Amoussouga, spokesman of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Among those sent to the small west African country were former finance minister Emmanuel Ndindabahizi and a Roman Catholic priest, father Athanase Seromba.
The ICTR in Arusha, northern Tanzania, is gradually tranferring convicts from its cells to other countries under arrangements made with the United Nations, while the court slowly winds up its business.
Another west African country, Mali, has already taken in 15 convicts, including former prime minister Jean Kambanda, who headed the interim government during the genocide and has been sentenced for life.
Over 100 days in April-June 1994, members of Rwanda`s mainly Hutu army and militias slaughtered an estimated 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in the small central African country.
The United Nations set up the ICTR by the end of the same year to carry out trials of prime suspects in the genocide.
Article 26 of the court`s statute stipulates that sentences are served in Rwanda or in a state designated by the ICTR among the list of nations that have made it known to the UN Security Council that they are ready to take in convicts.
The Rwandan government argues that under this statute, the first destination for convicts must be Rwanda itself, and a prison has been built in the south of the country that meets stipulated UN standards. But at present, no ICTR convict has been sent to Rwanda.
Apart from Mali, Benin and Rwanda, four other countries have signed an agreement with the UN to take in ICTR convicts: France, Italy, Swaziland and Sweden.
© Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009.
Rwanda disappointed with transfer of genocide convicts to Mali
BBC Monitoring Africa
December 08, 2008
Text of report by Felly Kimenyi entitled “Govt disappointed with transfer of Genocide convicts to Mali” published in English by Rwandan newspaper The New Times website on 8 December; ellipses as published
The government has expressed disappointment over the recent decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to transfer two convicts of the tribunal to Mali from where they will complete their sentences.
The convicts who were transferred to a Malian prison earlier last week are former editor-in-chief of the extremist Kangura newspaper, Hassan Ngeze, and one of the founders of the hate Radio Television Libre de Mille Collines (RTLM), Ferdinand Nahimana.
“There is an emergence of the impunity gap as a result of all this...that is why there have been releases of suspects both hurriedly and conveniently,” said Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga during an interview at his office yesterday.
Rwanda has always requested that convicts serve their sentences in the country as well as transferring some of the suspects for trial in Rwanda but to no avail.
“The decisions to transfer these convicts to Mali and the decision rejecting the prosecutor`s request to transfer some cases to Rwanda are within the competence of the ICTR...they (decisions) are nevertheless very disappointing,” said Ngoga. He however said that the Government of Rwanda will continue to close the gaps. “We believe this is a trend that can be reversed.”
The two convicts together with Jean Bosco Barayagwiza were tried in a joint trial that was dubbed the “Media Trial”.
Ngeze, who is mainly known for the publication of the “Hutu 10 Commandments”, was sentenced to 35 years while Nahimana will serve 30 years of imprisonment.
They were transferred to Mali where they joined six others detained there including former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda who is serving a life imprisonment.
Since its establishment by the United Nations Security Council in 1994 to try masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis, the tribunal has completed 35 cases and among these, five have been acquitted.
“When suspects are set free as a result of ICTR`s judicial process, certainly that is a matter of concern...that is what I call the impunity gap resulting from a judicial process,” said Ngoga.
He added: “If we don`t address the situation, we shall have a scenario of judicial indifference and that must be avoided.” Ngoga, who is a former special representative of the government at the Tanzania-based tribunal, said that the entire process calls for patience and resilience, adding that what is at stake is bigger than the immediate feelings and sentiments.
“As a responsible nation, we have to rise high above and walk along this balance between ICTR`s judicial independence and what we think and believe are its shortcomings,” he said.
Time has caught up with the tribunal which has until 2010 to close down as per the directive of the Security Council, yet some suspects in their custody have not started trial, others remain at large. Among those at large include Felicien Kabuga, commonly known as the “financier of the genocide” whom the ICTR has for years suspected to be in Kenya but no move has been made towards his arrest.
A trial chamber recently blocked a motion by the ICTR chief prosecutor to have five suspects be transferred to Rwanda for trial, however, according to sources, negotiations between the court and the Government of Rwanda are still on to have them brought here for trial.
Source: The New Times website, Kigali, in English 8 Dec 08
© 2008 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Rwanda: Report on interrogation of former premier reveals genocide “conspiracy”
BBC Monitoring Africa
July 14, 2005
Text of report by Patrick Bigabo and agencies entitled “Habyarimana cabinet discussed genocide” published in English by Rwandan newspaper The New Times web site on 13 July; subheading as published
Shocking reports indicate that a testimony that was recorded as a transcript of 60 hours of interrogations of former Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, reveals that the genocide was openly discussed in cabinet meetings of the defunct Juvenal Habyarimana regime.
The report, widely believed to have been leaked to Linda Melvern, a British author of the book “Conspiracy to Murder - The Rwandan Genocide”, says a senior official from the Rwandan war crimes tribunal (ICTR) flew to London last week to question how she obtained the secret confessions of a 1994 Rwandan genocide organizer for inclusion in her recently-published book.
It is believed that Melvern obtained a copy of the transcript from unofficial sources. She said the war crimes official, prosecution lawyer, Barbara Mulveney, asked her how she had obtained the “sensitive documents”, but that she declined to reveal the source.
According to Melvern, the official expressed amazement at the leak of the confessions to war crimes interrogators of the Rwandan prime minister during the genocide, Jean Kambanda. About a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the genocide in just a hundred days - that was far faster than the Holocaust of the Jews in World War Two.
Conspiracy to murder
Kambanda`s testimony was recorded as a transcript of sixty hours of interrogations and according to Melvern`s account, it “goes into remarkable detail about the way the genocide was organized”.
In the book it is stated that investigations indicate that the killings were to a large extent planned in advance by a relatively small group of extremist ethnic Hutu politicians from northern Rwanda, who obtained support from the outside world. The detailed planning is important to record because it took a long time for the outside world to realize how carefully the mass killings were planned. The genocide was often portrayed in the West as a spontaneous, uncontrollable outpouring of ethnic hatred which, as such, could not be stopped.
The UN Security Council pulled most of a small UN peacekeeping force out shortly after the genocide began and key members of the Council - the US, Britain and France, lobbied against reinforcing the UN presence in a way that UN commanders on the ground recommended.
Cabinet talks, one of the most revealing episodes from the transcript is where Jean Kambanda reveals that the genocide was openly discussed in cabinet meetings. This contradicts claims by senior government officials at the time that the killings were a spontaneous expression of “self defence” against the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
Kambanda described, according to Melvern, how one cabinet minister said she was personally in favour of getting rid of all Tutsi; without the Tutsi, he told ministers, all of Rwanda`s problems would be over. The Kambanda testimony also gave an insider`s account of the roadblocks where so many Tutsi lost their lives. As Prime Minister, he received complaints from some Hutus about the roadblocks; he didn`t get complaints from Tutsi for obvious reasons.
Linda Malvern`s book - based on a year of research and numerous previously unpublished documents - also goes into the fine detail of planning for a possible genocide. After combing through bank archives and government documents she reveals, for instance, that in 1993 the government of Rwanda imported, from China, three quarters of a million dollars worth of machetes. “This was enough for one new machete for every third male,” she states in her book. Machetes were used for many of the murders committed during the genocide. The details of pre-genocide arms imports from Egypt and France are also given, as is the extent of French military cooperation with the parts of the Rwandan army most responsible for the genocide.
Source: The New Times web site, Kigali, in English 13 Jul 05
© 2005 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Ex-Rwandan Premier Gets Life in Prison On Charges of Genocide in `94 Massacres
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
The New York Times
September 05, 1998
Rwandan Genocide 1994
ARUSHA, Tanzania, Sept. 4 -- A United Nations tribunal sentenced a former Prime Minister of Rwanda to life in prison today for his part in the 1994 genocide there, despite his agreement to plead guilty and to testify against other high-ranking officials.
The former official, Jean Kambanda, who was Prime Minister for three months in 1994 when an estimated 500,000 people were killed, stood motionless in court as the president of the tribunal, Judge Laity Kama of Senegal, told him he would spend the rest of his life in jail.
Mr. Kambanda is the first person in history to be sentenced for the crime of genocide, an offense first formally defined in the 1948 Genocide Convention after the horrors of World War II and now incorporated into the United Nations tribunal`s statutes.
The sentencing today came two days after the Rwanda tribunal handed down the first guilty verdict after trial by an international court for the crime of genocide, against a former small-town Mayor, Jean-Paul Akayesu.
Judge Kama said the gravity of Mr. Kambanda`s crimes outweighed the help he had given to prosecutors and his willingness to accept responsibility for what happened. On May 1, Mr. Kambanda pleaded guilty to six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Mr. Kambanda, a 42-year-old former bank director, has described to prosecutors in more than 90 hours of recorded testimony the inner workings of the interim Government that orchestrated the killings.
“The principle must always remain that the reduction in the penalties from mitigating circumstances must in no way diminish the gravity of the offense,” Judge Kama said.
“Jean Kambanda committed these crimes knowingly and with premeditation,” the judge added later. “The crimes are unacceptable because, as Prime Minister, Jean Kamanda had the duty and the authority to protect the population.”
Prosecutors said the judge`s decision to impose the maximum penalty allowed under the tribunal`s statute would make it more difficult to persuade others to plead guilty.
But they said Mr. Kambanda was still likely to testify in future trials, if only to protect his wife and children, who are being guarded by United Nations bodyguards. In addition, they said, the court can reduce Mr. Kambanda`s sentence in the future in light of the testimony he gives against his former colleagues.
“His main concern has been the protection of his family,” a senior prosecutor, Mohammed C. Othman, said.
Rwandan officials and genocide survivors welcomed the sentence, though some said they regretted that the tribunal could not order Mr. Kambanda`s execution.
One Rwandan diplomat said Mr. Kambanda`s confession that the interim Government had organized and carried out the genocide was gratifying, since many Hutu leaders deny that the state sponsored the massacres.
“The person who is being sentenced was a key player in the whole genocide,” said the diplomat, Joy Mukanyange. “In a way he has convicted the entire Government of the time.”
But in a presentencing hearing on Thursday, a defense lawyer portrayed Mr. Kambanda as an unwilling puppet whom Hutu militants had coerced to lead the Government in the massacres.
The lawyer, Oliver Michael Inglis, said Hutu militants had drafted Mr. Kambanda against his will to become Prime Minister shortly after a plane carrying the Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana, was shot down near Kigali, the capital, on April 6, 1994.
Mr. Habyarimana`s death marked the beginning of the genocide, but it was also in effect a coup by hard-line Hutu militants. After four years of intermittent fighting, Mr. Habyarimana and Tutsi rebels had just concluded a peace agreement and agreed to share power.
Within days, Hutu militants had seized the Government, assassinated several moderate Hutu politicians, forced Belgian peacekeeping troops to withdraw by killing 10 of them and ordered militias to start massacres of Tutsi civilians. Almost simultaneously, the civil war between the Government and Tutsi rebels in the north resumed.
Mr. Kambanda was at the heart of the interim Government that orchestrated the killings before being defeated in July by the Tutsi rebels and forced into exile in Zaire (now Congo).
An economist and banker from the town of Butare, Mr. Kambanda was a well-known politician in the radical wing of the Democratic Popular Movement, one of the main Hutu parties.
The coup leaders chose him to become Prime Minister on April 8, 1994, and for three months he served as the chairman of a council of ministers. They, along with senior military officials and militia leaders, planned and carried out massacres of Tutsi across the country.
At the hearing on Thursday, Mr. Inglis said Mr. Kambanda had had no choice. He said the Hutu military leaders who had seized the Government dragged Mr. Kambanda out of his bank position and forced him to serve to give their Government legitimacy.
Mr. Inglis pointed out that military bodyguards accompanied Mr. Kambanda wherever he went. The defense lawyer said Mr. Kambanda had agreed to do what the militants asked because he feared for his family`s safety. “He did not have any hand in the planning of the gruesome events that had taken place,” Mr. Inglis told the court. “Everything had already been prepared and packaged for him for delivery.”
“The accused was trapped and made a puppet,” Mr. Inglis added. “A puppet has no will of his own.”
But prosecutors maintain that Mr. Kambanda was not only a willing member of the Government that oversaw the genocide, but became its main spokesman. He traveled throughout the country, visiting places where massacres were taking place and giving inflammatory speeches that encouraged people to kill Tutsi, prosecutors said.
“We have a number of speeches, recorded speeches, that he made which we think amounted to a direct call to people to commit genocide,” the senior prosecutor, Mr. Othman, said.
Mr. Kambanda also signed directives legalizing the murderous gangs of militiamen and personally distributed arms to them, knowing they would be used to commit massacres, prosecutors said.
The former Prime Minister admitted he dismissed the local Tutsi Governor in his home region, Butare, and replaced him with a radical Hutu official, who organized the killings of Tutsi civilians.
But perhaps the most chilling charge Mr. Kambanda has acknowledged is that he headed a meeting in Kibuye in May 1994, at which local officials asked him to save dozens of Tutsi children who had survived a massacre and were hiding in a hospital. Mr. Kambanda did nothing to help them. They were killed later that day.
After the Tutsi rebels defeated the Government army and stopped the killings, Mr. Kambanda fled into Zaire with thousands of other Hutu refugees in July 1994.
He later moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where he was arrested in July 1997 along with several other high-ranking former Government officials.
Since his arrest, Mr. Kambanda has provided prosecutors with critical information about what happened in Cabinet meetings and meetings with military officials during the genocide.
For this reason, prosecutors at the tribunal see Mr. Kambanda as the key to several cases in which they hope to prove the genocide was a state-orchestrated event, a vast conspiracy planned by senior military officers, politicians and militant Hutu journalists.
“What we can say is that what he has told us in general terms confirms our theory,” Mr. Othman said. “That the genocide is the result of a criminal conspiracy.”
Mr. Othman said Mr. Kambanda was expected to be a star witness at several trials. Prosecutors say he can give testimony about what top officials knew about the killings going on in remote regions and how they planned the massacres.
“There is no way we would know the deliberations of top decision makers without someone who participated in the meetings,” he said. “He chaired the meetings.”
Among survivors of the genocide, there is little doubt that Mr. Kambanda was a driving force behind the killings. Alice Karakezi, an advocate for survivors who has followed the trial closely, sat in the court on Thursday. As she listened to Judge Kama`s summation of Mr. Kambanda`s crimes, she said, she could see images of Mr. Kambanda during the genocide, dressed in military fatigues, handing out weapons, urging people to kill “accomplices” of the rebels, a euphemism for Tutsi civilians.
“You can`t really be satisfied, you know,” she said after the sentencing. “Life imprisonment. So what? People who are dead won`t come back again.”
© 1998 New York Times Company