Augustin Ndindiliyimana

17.04.2014 ( Last modified: 10.06.2016 )
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Augustin Ndindiliyamana was born on or around 15 April 1943, in the Nyaruhengeri commune, in the prefecture of Butare, Rwanda. From 1973, he held ministerial positions (notably as Minister for Youth and Minister of Defence) under the regime of President Habyarimana. On 2 September 1992, he was named Chief of Staff of the National Gendarmerie, a position which he held until July 1994. In this capacity, he exercised authority over the entire National Gendarmerie. The National Gendarmerie was in charge of maintaining public order and peace as well as the observance of the laws in force throughout the country. Moreover it had the duty to assist anyone in danger.

According to the indictment, from late 1990 until July 1994, Ndindiliyamana conspired with others to work out a plan with intent to exterminate the civilian Tutsi population and eliminate members of the opposition. The components of this plan consisted of, amongst other things, recourse to hatred and ethnic violence, the training of and distribution of weapons to militiamen as well as the preparation of lists of people to be eliminated. In executing the plan, Ndindiliyimana is said to have organised, ordered and participated in the massacres of the Tutsi population.

In order to implement the plan to exterminate the Tutsi and members of the opposition, the military and civilian authorities, from the end of 1992, distributed weapons to the militias and certain members of the civilian population. Due to the widespread availability of arms in the Kigali-town prefecture, UNIMAR (United Nations Mission for Assistance in Rwanda) set up a disarmament programme, known as “Kigali Weapon Security Area” (KWSA). This programme came into force at the beginning of 1994. Alongside this, and with the cooperation of Ndindiliyamana, UNIMAR organised search operations in Kigali. However the efficiency of these operations was compromised by Ndindiliyamana who is reported to have given advance warning of the sites to be searched to Mathieu Ngirumpatse, the President of the MRND (National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development, the party of the President. The latter is said to have passed on this information to the Interahamwe (extremist Hutu militia), who immediately moved the arms to another location.

On 10 January 1994, UNIMAR was informed, by an Interahamwe leader, about an arms cache in Kigali, and about a plan to eliminate the Tutsi population. On 13 January 1994, several arms caches were discovered in Kigali in places under the control of members of the MRND, in particular at the party’s headquarters in Kimihrura in a house owned by Ndindiliyamana. During the search, several firearms and cases of ammunition were discovered.

UNIMAR was perceived by certain Hutu extremists as an obstacle to their extermination plans. They therefore adopted a strategy aimed at provoking the Belgian military which had the most efficient and well equipped contingent in UNIMAR. Over time their objective was to force them to leave the country. On 7 January 1994, Ndindiliyamana and other influential personalities took part in a meeting held at the headquarters of the MRND. During this meeting it was reportedly decided to provoke the Belgians by various different means.

During the night of 6 April 1994, Belgian soldiers received the order to go to the home of the Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyamana, in order to escort her to the National Radio where she was scheduled to make a speech. On arrival at her residence around 5 am, they were attacked by soldiers of the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR).They were disarmed and held prisoner together with five Ghanaian soldiers who were responsible for ensuring the safety of the Prime Minister. Despite having negotiated surrender with a promise to be taken to a UNIMAR base, the Belgian and Ghanaian soldiers were taken to a camp in Kigali where they were attacked and beaten by Rwandan soldiers. Whereas the Ghanaian soldiers were set free, four of the Belgian soldiers were murdered immediately. The six other Belgian soldiers held out against several attacks for a period of a few hours before finally being killed.

Meanwhile, a hundred metres from this spot, Ndindiliyamana was taking part in a meeting at the Higher Military School, when he was informed of the danger which the Belgian soldiers were incurring. Ndindiliyamana made no decision to save them and continued with his meeting until around noon. On 13 April 1994, in consideration of the death of 10 of its soldiers, Belgium decided to withdraw its contingent from Rwanda.

From April to July 1994, by virtue of their position, their statements, the orders they issued and their actions, Ndindiliyimana, as well as Augustin Bizimungu Major Protais Mpiranya, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, exercised authority over members of the Rwandan Armed Forces, their officers and militiamen. From 6 April 1994, these soldiers, gendarmes and militiamen, perpetrated massacres against the Tutsi population and the moderate Hutu and committed other crimes such as rape and sexual assault in addition to further crimes of a sexual nature, which were widespread throughout the entire territory of Rwanda and had the full knowledge of Ndindiliyimana, Bizimungu, Mpiranya, Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu.

From April to July 1994, in all regions of the country, members of the Tutsi population who were fleeing from the massacres in their hillsides, sought refuge in locations they believed would be safe, often on the recommendation of the local civil and military authorities. In many of these places, despite the promise that they would be protected by the local civil and military authorities, the refugees were attacked, abducted and massacred by soldiers, gendarmes and militiamen often on the orders, or with the connivance, of those same authorities. Furthermore, in many of those locations, soldiers and militiamen abducted, killed and raped or sexually assaulted Tutsi women. Augustin Ndindiliyimana, in his capacity as Chief of Staff of the National Gendarmerie, knew, or had reasons to know, that his subordinates were about to commit or had committed crimes and did nothing to prevent such crimes or punish the perpetrators.

In July 1994, faced with the advance of the troops of the FPR (Rwandan Patriotic Front, an opposition movement composed essentially of Tutsi refugees and led by Paul Kagame), Ndindiliyimana fled Rwanda. On 29 January 2000, he was arrested in Termonde, Belgium, where he had been granted the status of political refugee.

legal procedure

Augustin Ndindiliyimana was arrested at the behest of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on 29 January 2000 in Termonde, Belgium. On 22 April 2000, he was transferred to the United Nations prison quarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

At his initial court appearance on 27 April 2000, Ndindiliyimana pleaded not guilty to all of the ten Counts with which he was charged.

Ndindiliyimana was accused of “conspiracy to commit genocide”, “genocide” or alternatively “complicity in genocide”. He was also accused of “assassination as a crime against humanity”, of “murder as a crime against humanity”, of “extermination as a crime against humanity”, of “persecution on political, racial or religious grounds as a crime against humanity” of “other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity” and various war crimes.

The ICTR, on request of the Chief Prosecutor, ordered a combined trial for Ndindiliyimana and three other officers of the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) accused of crimes committed in different locations throughout Rwanda in 1994. The three other co-accused are: Augustin Bizimungu (Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Army ), Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye (Commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion of the Rwandan Army) and Innocent Sagahutu (Second-in-Command of the Reconnaissance Battalion of the Rwandan Army)

The trial of Ndindiliyimana and his co-accused, known as “Military Trial 2” opened on 20 September 2004 before the Second Trial Chamber of the ICTR.

On 17 May 2011, the Trial Chamber II found the defendant guilty on 1 count of genocide (count 1), 2 counts of crimes against humanity (counts 4 and 5, murder, extermination) and 1 count of violations of Art.3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II (counts 7, murder).

The Trial Chamber II also found the defendant not guilty of conspiracy to commit genocide (count 1) and dismissed the charge of complicity with genocide (count 2).

The defendant was sentenced to the time served since he was arrested in Belgium in January 2000 and was released. Mitigating factors that the Chamber took into account in handing down a lesser sentence were the defendant’s limited command over the Gendarmerie after 6 April 1994, his consistent support for the Arusha (peace) Accords, and his opposition to the massacres in Rwanda.


Rwanda has been historically inhabited by three distinct social groups, known as Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. Between April and July 1994 the country was torn apart by a bloody genocide, during which extremist Hutu people targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was powerless against those committing the genocide, as the peacekeeping troops were outnumbered.


In hopes of facilitating the process of national reconciliation and to promote peace in the country, on 8 November 1994 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 955, establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Tribunal’s function is to prosecute perpetrators of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1 January and 31 December 1994 in Rwanda. Since its inception, 92 persons have been indicted in front of the ICTR. Some proceedings are however still ongoing.

The ICTR is primed to close down in 2015.

Regarding what will happen to the functions and activities that will outlive the ICTR, the UN Security Council established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (or “the Mechanism”), in Resolution 1966 (2010), to take over the remaining functions of both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Mechanism, which has been functioning since 1 July 2012, has already taken over some of the ongoing functions of the ICTR, including the enforcement of sentences of those convicted and sentenced by the Tribunal, the tracking, arrest and prosecution of fugitives earmarked for trial at the Mechanism, and the care and protection of witnesses.


In 1998, discussions began under the direction of the President of the Republic of Rwanda about the possible use of traditional courts to support the ordinary Rwandan judicial system and the ICTR. A commission was created to study this possibility, and its report provided the basis of the Organic Law of 26 January 2001, which created the Gacaca Courts.

These courts were in charge of trying the low and middle-level perpetrators of the genocide, apart from the “planners” who should have been tried before national courts. The Gacaca courts were composed of elected popular assemblies, made up of non-professional judges. The composition and functioning of such courts raised several concerns about the respect of fair trial guarantees.

According to Rwandan authorities, during their functioning, the Gacaca courts tried almost two million people. On 18 June 2012 Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced the official end of Gacaca courts’ activity.