Ladislas Ntaganzwa

18.04.2016 ( Last modified: 14.06.2016 )
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facts

Ladislas Ntaganzwa was born in 1962 in Gasharu, in the Muhambara sector of the commune of Nyakizu (which is situated in the prefecture of Butare in Rwanda).

From 1993 until he fled Rwanda, he was Mayor of the commune of Nyakizu, a post which gave him authority over his subordinates, which included employees of the commune, members of the communal police, and counsellors from various sectors.

He was also head of the MRND party (National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development) in the commune of Nyakizu.

According to the indictment, Ladislas Ntaganzwa was reported to have participated in a plan to exterminate the Tutsi population in his commune from late 1990 until July 1994. Among other things, this plan included the fuelling of racial hatred and violence, the training and armament of paramilitary units, and the compilation of lists of people to be eliminated. In carrying out this plan, Ntaganzwa was alleged to have organized and ordered massacres and to have participated in them personally.

In the week following the death of President Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, Ntaganzwa was said to have organized a gathering of the population, during which he called upon them to eliminate the whole Tutsi population in the sector.

According to the indictment, Ntaganzwa distributed weapons to civilians on 15 April 1994, and accompanied them, together with members of the national police, to the parish of Cyahinda (commune of Nyakizu). People who had taken refuge from massacres in the parish were surrounded by these civilians and the police under the command of Ntaganzwa, who then asked them to give up everything that was in their possession.

Subsequently, Ntaganzwa was reported to have told the refugees to leave the parish and to return to their homes. When one of them tried to explain to him that they were afraid to do so, Ntaganzwa allegedly ordered his execution. He then gave the order to attack the others who had sought refuge in the church. Ntaganzwa was said to have taken part personally in this first attack, which caused several deaths and injuries.

On 18 April 1994, after a visit by interim President Sindikubwabo, during which he had called for the killing of more Tutsis, Ntaganzwa allegedly ordered and directed a massacre of the Tutsis who had survived the first attack.

Moreover, on 20 April 1994, he was alleged to have ordered and directed further killings accompanied by armed citizens.

Ladislas Ntaganzwa was indicted in 1996 by the International Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

legal procedure

Ladislas Ntaganzwa was indicted in 1996 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

The indictment against Ladislas Ntaganzwa comprised 9 counts:

1. Conspiracy to commit genocide
2. Genocide
3. Complicity in genocide
4. Direct and public incitation to commit genocide
5. Murder as a crime against humanity
6. Extermination as a crime against humanity
7. Persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds as crimes against humanity
8. Other inhumane acts as crimes against humanity
9. Violence to life, health and physical or mental well being of persons, in particular murder, cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation, or any kind of physical maltreatment as a serious violation of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II (Art.4 ICTR Statute)

On 8 May 2012 the ICTR Trial Chamber referred Ntaganzwa case to Rwandan national courts. The referral is subject to a number of conditions, including that the accused will receive a fair trial in Rwanda, at the end of which no death penalty will be imposed.

On 9 December 2015, Ntaganzwa has been arrested in DRC. He has been extradited to Rwanda on 11 December 2015.

context

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.

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA (ICTR)

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.

THE GACACA COURTS

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.