Since Judge Theodor Meron for Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) approved the request for early release of Historian Ferdinand Nahimana and Father Emmanuel Rukundo who are among the most well-known convicts of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR); Rwanda condemn the decision.
The umbrella body for Genocide survivors’ associations, IBUKA also condemned the decision to grant an early release of two convicted masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Rwandan Minister of Justice and general attorney Johnston Busingye, when asked by Jeune Afrique the reasons for criticizing judge’s decision, he said two important dimensions should be taken into consideration.
“The texts provide that an early release takes into consideration two important dimensions. The first relates to the gravity of the crime committed, the second takes account of the prisoner’s awareness and repentance, as well as his conduct in prison. Incidentally, even if the law does not require it, we believe that consultation with the Rwandan authorities before making such decisions would be a good one.” Minister Busingye stated.
The judge should have weighed up before taking decisions. Minister weighed in on the recent decisions made by the same judge.
“Other Rwandans convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) have in the past benefited from reductions in sentences and or early release. All these judgments are made by one man; Judge Theodor Meron.”
The first or even the second contested decision may be granted the benefit of the doubt. But at the tenth, one ends up wondering about the approach of this magistrate to the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsis.
It is not only with Rwanda that the decisions of Judge Meron are problematic. This is also the case in certain cases relating to the former Yugoslavia. It is up to him to take account of these criticisms, either by stopping to mechanically pronounce early releases to two-thirds of the sentence, or by surrounding himself with other magistrates before rendering such decisions – what he has done up to now Solo, as chairman of the MICT.
First arrested in 1996, Nahimana was found guilty in December 2003, of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement, persecution and extermination. Emmanuel Rukundo, a former military chaplain, was arrested in 2001, before he was convicted of genocide, extermination and murder in February 2009.