Ildephonse Hategekimana

31.05.2016 ( Last modified: 09.02.2017 )
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Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana was born in Mugina commune in the prefecture of Girarama, Rwanda. At the time of the allegations he was camp commandant of the Ngoma military camp in the Butare province.

In collaboration with others holding political and military authority Ildephonse Hategekimana is said to have planned the elimination of the civilian Tutsi population and members of the opposition in order to hold on to power.

Moreover, he is alleged to have personally incited and supervised the massacres and other crimes committed in Butare between April and June 1994 by Interhamwe militias and the military. This was reportedly done by furnishing materiel, in particular hand grenades but also transportation for these troops.

Ildephonse Hategekimana was arrested in Congo Brazzaville on 16 February 2003 and transferred to the ICTR prison quarters in Arusha two days later.

legal procedure

Ildephonse Hategekimana was indicted by the Prosecutor of the ICTR on 7 November 2000.

Ildephonse Hategekimana was arrested in Congo Brazzaville on 16 February 2003 and transferred to the ICTR prison quarters in Arusha two days later.

The indictment charges him with five counts:

– genocide (Art. 2 para. 3 let. a ICTR Statute), or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide (Art. 2 para. 3 let. e ICTR Statute), direct and public incitement to commit genocide (Art. 2 para. 3 let .c ICTR Statute);
– crimes against humanity: rape (Art. 3 let. g ICTR Statute) and other inhumane acts 
(Art.3 let. i ICTR Statute).

On 28 February 2003, at his initial appearance before the third trial chamber of the ICTR, he pleaded not guilty to each of the charges laid against him.

On 11 September 2007, the ICTR-Prosecutor filed a request under rule 11bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence to refer the cases of Hategekimana, Yussuf Munyakazi and Gaspard Kanyarukiga for trial before the Rwandan judiciary.

According to the ICTR-Rules of Procedure, the President of the Court designated for each of the three requests a referral bench consisting of three judges to decide on the referral after having heard the arguments of Prosecution and Defence.

All of the accused were opposed to the transfer of their files to the Rwandan judiciary, despite the fact that the death penalty, which constituted the main obstacle to referrals from the ICTR, was abolished in July 2007.

On 20 June 2008, the Referral Bench rejected the request by the prosecutor to refer the case to the Rwandan judiciary due to fears that he would not receive a fair trial.

The trial before the ICTR began on 8 March 2009 and closed on 6 October 2009.

On 6 December 2010, Ildephonse Hategekimana was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Trial Chamber II of the ICTR found him guilty on three counts of genocide for killing of Tutsi at Ngoma Parish and at Maison Généralice as well as crimes against humanity for murdering several others and raping one Nura Sezirahiga. He was acquitted of one count of complicity in genocide.

On 8 May 2012, the ICTR Appeals Chambers rejected the seven grounds of appeal of the Lieutenant Idelphonse Hategekimana and confirmed the sentence of life imprisonment. The appeal judges upheld the conviction of the Lieutenant for genocide and crimes against humanity.


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.