Stanislas Mbanenande was born on 26 August 1958 in Kibuye, Rwanda and belonged to the Hutu ethnic group. As an adult, Mbanenande was educated in civil engineering and worked as a lecturer in the universities in the prefecture Butare. In the beginning of the genocide on 6 April 1994, Mbanenande was in Kibuye where he functioned as an informal leader for young Hutus, many of them who sympathised with the extremists. During the genocide Mbanenande possessed a fireman and as there were mainly persons in leader position who owned firearms, it strengthened his position as a leader among the young Hutus. Mbanenande is accused of having committed and participating in killings, attempted killings and enforced disappeances with intent to destroy, in whole or in part the ethnic group Tutsi during the period between 6 April and 30 June 1994. He is accused of committed abovementioned acts in the following cases:
Mbanenande is accused of having participated in the killings between April 12 and 16, when over a hundred persons had fled up to the mountain Ruhiro in the South part of Kibuye. Most of them were Tutsis and were unarmed and they were attacked by several paramilitary groups leading to the death of hundreds of victims. Mbanenande is accused of having committed this attack and of killing several victims by shooting them or beating them to death. Two of the alleged victims were an elderly man and woman. Mbanenande is further accused of participating in the killings of several victims outside the school Nyamishaba by shooting into a crowd of people with an automatic weapon.
On 17 April 1994, Mbanenande has allegedly participated in the killings and atrocities around the Catholic Church and the hotel Saint Jean in Kibuye. Most of the people were unarmed and had sought protection in this area after advice form the authorities. The people were forced by armed groups to stay in the area and during the day several hundred of militias, police and civilians went to attack against the people and killed the majority of those seeking protection. The aggressors used firearms; grenades, machetes and other weapons and those who hid in the church were forced out by smoke and were killed outside. The aggressors used burning car tyres to force people out of the church and teargas. Many of those who tried to flee drowned when trying to swim in the Kivu Lake. Mbanenande is accused of participating in organizing the attack as well as having shot into the group of fleeing people with an automatic weapon with the intention to kill as many as possible.
On 18 April 1994, Mbanenande is accused of having participating in the massacre in the Gatwaro Stadium in Kibuye where thousands of people, mainly Tutsis, had gathered for protection. The victims were surrounded by military, paramilitary, and armed groups and attacked with weapons, machetes, grenades and other weapons and several victims dies or were seriously harmed. On 19 April the people inside the stadium were stopped by the military when they tried to flee so those who survived the previous day and who did not managed to flee, were killed on 19 April instead.
Mbanenande is also accused of patrolling around Kibuye with the intention to find and kill Tutsis between 20 April and 30 June 1994. Mbanenande has allegedly, during this time, killed seven men and one woman by shooting them or beating them to death. At one instance Mbanenande is accused of killing a man by repeatedly hitting the man’s head with a stone and a block of concrete. In addition, he allegedly threw a grenade against a crowd which killed several people. At another instance, Mbanenande has allegedly, together with other perpetrators, forced a man out of a house by using burning car tyres and using teargas and after them man came out, Mbanenande has together with others allegedly tortured and killed the man.
Mbanenande is further accused of having participated in attacks against ten thousands of people who had fled to the massif in Bisesero south of Kibuye between 9 April and 30 June 1994. Mbanenande is accused of having participated in the actual killings as well as of organising groups of young Hutus with the intention letting them participate in the killing of Tutsis.
After the genocide, Mbanenande fled to Sweden where he claimed refuge and he was later granted Swedish citizenship.
In 2009, a Gacaca court sentenced Mbanenande to life in absentia on four counts related to his role in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Following the Gacaca sentence, Interpol issued a warrant for Mbanenande’s arrest and he was arrested by Swedish police on 22 December 2011. He has remained in custody since 26 December 2011. Following Mbanenande’s arrest, police and prosecution officials from Sweden came to Rwanda to discuss the case with John Bosco Siboyintore, the head of the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit in the National Prosecution Authority.
Mbanenande was indicted by the Stockholm District court on 5 November 2012 on the counts of genocide and jus gentium including the crimes of murder, attempted murder and abduction.
Mbanenande pleads not guilty.
Mbanenande was indicted by the Stockholm District court on 5 November 2012 on the counts of genocide and jus gentium including the crimes of murder, attempted murder and abduction. Mbanenande pleaded not guilty.
The trial started on 16 November 2012 and the Swedish Government, upon the Prosecutor’s request, decided to hold the trial in Sweden, since the accused was a Swedish citizen. However, out of the 80 days of trial, some of them were held in Rwanda. By the end of November 2012, the Bench, the Prosecution, the Defense and the victims’ representation travelled to the areas around Kibuye and from 28 November and onwards, questioning of victims and witnesses will be held in the Supreme Court’s premises in Kigali. The Prosecution called over 40 witnesses, 19 out of those are survivors of the alleged murder attempts committed by Mbanenande.
This was the first time that a Swedish court tried the crime of genocide and the first case in relation to Rwanda. The Stockholm District Court has, nevertheless, tried several cases of war crime committed during the Balkan Wars during the 90s.
Mbanenande’s defense lawyer, Tomas Nilsson argued that it is difficult to handle the evidence in the case as they deal with incidents that occurred 18 years ago.
The case is controversial as Mbanenande has already been sentenced by a Gacaca court and it is against international principles to try someone for the same crime twice. However, Swedish law does not recognise gacacas and it is therefore argued by the Court that it can try the accused in Sweden. The Defense, nevertheless, pointed out that even though the Swedish Court does not recognise the Gacaca sentence, several of the testimonies overlap.
On 20 June 2013, the Swedish court delivered its judgement and sentenced Mbanenande to life imprisonment.
According to the Court Mbanenande had a leading role at a lower level and was directly involved in killings, attempted killings and the kidnapping of civilians in Kibuye between 6 April and 18 July 1994. Mbanenande was also found guilty of attempted murder at several occasions for firing with an automatic weapon at a group of people. In relation to some of the charges surrounding the massacres in a neighbourhood in Kibuye, the Court held that the Prosecutor had not presented enough evidence for a conviction.
According to the Court, it has been proven that Mbanenande has committed these attacks with the intention to deliberately and systematically destroy, in whole or in part, the ethnic group Tutsi and thus he was held guilty of genocide. This is the first time that anyone has been convicted for the crime of genocide in a Swedish court. Because of the acts committed and their connection to the armed conflict in Rwanda in 1994, several violations of international humanitarian law were committed and Mbanenande was found guilty of violating several rules and principles of international customary law.
Although claims were made to the Swedish court, the Court did not award any damages to the victims as it considered that Rwandan law should be applied in relation to compensation.
After denying the charges, Mbanenande appealed his conviction, asserting that the allegations against him were politically motivated, and that the investigation was fabricated.
On 19 June 2014, the Appeal Court rendered its decision, upholding District Court’s verdict.
The Court asserted that the conviction was based on a number of reliable testimonies of victims and witnesses, and there are no reasons to change the decision.
The defendant’s lawyer stated that there is a possibility that Mbanenande would appeal to the Supreme Court.
Stanislas Mbanenande is the first person to be tried and convicted for genocide before a Swedish Court.
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.