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The Prosecutor v. Jules Baritima & Lénie Nyirashako

Court Court of First Instance for Gisenyi (Specialised Chamber), Rwanda
Case number RP 33/R1/97/G
Decision title Judgment
Decision date 26 June 1997
  • The Prosecutor
  • Jules Baritima
  • Lénie Nyirashako
Categories Crimes against humanity, Genocide
Keywords common Article 3, crimes against humanity, genocide, Murder, Non-international armed conflict, pillage
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Following the death of Rwandan President Habyariamana on 6 April 1994, a nationwide campaign was launched against members of the Tutsi population who were subsequently targeted for elimination. Hundreds of thousands of Tutsis died over a period of several months.

The present case before the Court of First Instance for Gisenyi prefecture in Rwanda considers a series of murders committed by Jules Baritima with the aid of Léni Nyirashako against Tutsis seeking refuge in the home of the latter. The Tribunal found Baritima guilty of genocide and sentenced him to death. Nyirashako was found guilty of murder. Both Accused were ordered to pay damages to the families of the victims.

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Procedural history

The Accused, Jules Baritima and Léni Nyirashako, are charged with having committed the crime of genocide in Gisenyi secteur in Rwanda between 7 April and 17 July 1994. In addition, the Accused are charged with murder, devastation, pillage and massacre as a crime against the security of the State and destruction of private homes; offences under Rwandan domestic law.

On 26 May 1997, the Tribunal initially set the date of the hearing for 5 June 1997, but subsequently postponed it to 12 June 1997. At the hearing, both Accused pleaded not guilty. On 20 June 1997, the Tribunal decided to perform further investigations and scheduled the date of judgment for 26 June 1997.

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Legally relevant facts

Jules Baritima was the head of the Kivumu cellule in Gisenyi préfecture (pp.8).

On 7 April 1994, Kabalisa sought refuge in the home Nyirashako at the insistence of the latter. The home was attacked by members of the Interahamwe militia and Kabalisa was killed. His mother, Karuhimbi, was also apprehended and killed at a roadblock outside the house. Bartima, a neighbour of Nyitashako’s was in the company of the perpetrators (pp. 3-4, 9-10).

The sibling of Kabalisa, Karemera, and Rutayisire were hiding behind Baritima’s property. In attempting to flee, Rutayisire was unable to climb over a fence, he was foudn by Baritima and killed (p. 7, 9).

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Articles 89, 90, 91, 168, 312, and 444 of the Rwandan Penal Code.
  • Articles 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
  • Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
  • Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.

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Court's holding and analysis

The Tribunal found Baritima guilty of genocide and Nyirashako guilty of murder (pp. 9-10). Both Accused were ordered to pay damages to the families of the victims. Baritima was sentenced to death (p. 11).

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Instruments cited