Froduald Karamira

31.05.2016 ( Last modified: 08.06.2016 )
Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


Froduald Karamira was born on 14 August 1947 in Mushubati, Rwanda. He was a former Tutsi, who, by following a Rwandan tradition, became a Hutu. After his conversion, he gained in importance both politically and economically, owning several buildings in Kigali.

At the time of the genocide, Froduald Karamira was Vice-President of the Rwandan Republican Democratic Movement (French acronym: MDR) and one of the leaders of its extremist wing, MDR-Power. He represented a faction that was hostile to any cooperation with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and opposed to the Arusha Accords. He is mainly known for his 23 October speech during which he called for the Hutus “to rise” and “take the necessary measures”, and to “look within ourselves for the enemy which is amongst us”. It was he, who on the occasion of this meeting and for the first time in public used the term “Hutu Power”, which, from then on, designated the coalition of the Hutu extremists. He thereby became the principle ideologue of this doctrine.

From 8 April 1994, he participated in the formation of the interim government. He went on the air daily with the Radio Station Mille Collines (RTLM) to incite massacres of the Tutsis.

According to the indictment, he was personally responsible for the execution of hundreds of Tutsis, including 13 members of his own family. He was also said to have played a key role in the creation of the Interahamwe militia and in providing them with arms.

In June 1996, he was arrested in Bombay, India, and extradited to Rwanda.

legal procedure

In June 1996, Froduald Karamira was arrested in Bombay, India, and extradited to Rwanda.

His trial began on 13 January 1997 before a special Trial Chamber of the Kigali courts. His legal council asked for a deferment of the hearing, stating that he had not had the possibility of meeting with its client before the start of the trial. The judge therefore postponed the trial until 28 January 1997.

On 14 February 1997, Froduald Karamira was found guilty of the crimes of genocide, murder, conspiracy, non-assistance to people in danger, and was sentenced to death.

On 12 September 1997, the Kigali Appeals Court rejected the appeal lodged by Froduald Karamira against this judgement.

Karamira was executed in public by firing squad on 24 April 1998 in the Nyamirambo stadium in Kigali. On this same day, 23 other persons, including Virginie Mukankusi, Déogratias Bizimana and Egide Gatanazi (see “related cases”), were publicly executed either in this same spot or in three other locations.


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.