Arusha-based Rwandan genocide tribunal closes shop

ICTR Prosecutor General, Hassan Bubacar Jallow announced Ntangazwa's capture describing him as one of the "big fish"

ICTR former Prosecutor General, Hassan Bubacar Jallow.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) a special court established by the United Nations shortly after the 1994 Genocide in Arusha, Tanzania, to pursue and prosecute suspected perpetrators of the mass killings has officially closed.

For the past 21 years the tribunal has indicted more than 94 suspects and out of these, 63 have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Some of the key Rwandan Tutsi Genocide suspects ICTR has convicted include Jean Paul Akayesu, for mayor, Rwanda’s former premier Jean Kambanda, and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, founding member of ‘genocidal’ Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) and the Mille Collines Free Radio and Television (RTLM).

The UN Court has had a fragile relationship with the government in Kigali over acquitting and freeing suspects, and reducing their sentences on appeal.

This Monday as the Court shut down its doors it approved appeals filed by six convicts; Sylvain Nsabimana and Joseph Kanyabashi were set free having been been convicted by the Trial Chamber of the UN Tribunal earlier. The Appeals Chamber also reduced for sentences of 4 genocide convicts infuriating authourities in Kigali.

“During the course of many cases, the Appeals Chamber showed inclination to minimise the Genocide against the Tutsi. It worked to exonerate many of the planners and perpetrators of the Genocide and at the same time lessen their sentences,” Jean Damascene Bizimana, the head of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) told The New Times, a local daily.

Several suspects or convicts have also been transferred to Rwanda for trial and to serve their sentences respectively.

Twenty one years ago, nearly a million Rwandans were killed in the Tutsi Genocide in Rwanda, Paul Kagame, the current Rwandan leader led a liberation army that halted the killings and captured power.

The country has since recovered but according to the Rwandan government, dozens of suspects are still at large in Western countries. The government has always lambasted the West for hosting the suspects.

Some Western countries like Canada and Denmark have cooperated have handed over suspects to Rwanda for trial.