Published on Wednesday, December 24, 2008 by Jurist
The media reports of the December 18 judgment of Chamber-1 at the International Criminal Tribunal for
Ever since former ICTR Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and ICTR Chief Investigative Prosecutor Michael Hourigan went public in 2007-8 exposing US-UK manipulations to grant de facto impunity to current Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his henchmen, between 1997 and the present, convictions of the vanquished in the Rwanda war are a given.
The real news was that ALL of the top Rwandan military officers, including the supposedly infamous Colonel Bagosora, were found not guilty of conspiracy or planning to commit genocide. And Gen. Gratien Kabiligi, a senior member of the general staff was acquitted of all charges! The others were found guilty of specific acts committed by subordinates, in specific places, at specific times - not an overall conspiracy to kill civilians, much less Rwandan-Tutsi civilians.
This raises the more profound question: if there was no conspiracy and no planning to kill ethnic civilians, can the tragedy that engulfed
The Court specifically found that the actions of Rwandan military leaders, both before any after the April 6, 1994 assassination of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarima, were consistent with war-time conditions and the massive chaos brought about by the four-year war of invasion from Uganda by Gen. Paul Kagame’s RPF army, which seized power in July 1994.
Although the Chamber did not specifically mention more recent events, it is worth noting that this is the same government that was named in a UN Security Council commissioned report on December 12, 2008 as having invaded the eastern Congo (with Uganda) in 1996 and again in 1998 and have occupied an area 15-times the size of Rwanda since that time. Similar UN Security Council reports in 2001, 2002 and 2003, make clear that
As Lead Defense Counsel for Major Aloys Ntabakuze, who was convicted of three specific crimes committed by troops without evidence they were acting under his authority, I would say the judgment was actually a victory. Our defense was based on previously suppressed contemporaneous UN and declassified US documents that showed Kagame’s RPF as the war-time aggressor, which was responsible for the assassination of the former President and for preventing military intervention to end the predicted civilian massacres.
The ICTR oral judgment specifically refers to this “alternative” explanation of the tragic events in
As early as May 17, 1994, UNHCR was receiving reports of massive civilian killings by Kagame’s RPF in the 1/3 of
Peter Erlinder is a professor at William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN. He is a past-President of the National Lawyers Guild, a Lead Defense Counsel-UN International Criminal Tribunal for
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs