The Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu
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||International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Trial Chamber I), Tanzania
||Judgement / Sentence
||2 September 1998
- The Prosecutor
- Jean-Paul Akayesu
||Crimes against humanity, Genocide, War crimes
||cause serious bodily or mental harm, crimes against humanity, cruel treatment, ethnic group, extermination, genocide, intent to destroy, kill, Murder, other inhumane acts, outrages upon personal dignity, rape, Serious violations of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II, torture, widespread or systematic attack
The present judgment constitutes the first-ever judgment by an international court for the crime of genocide. The Accused, Jean-Paul Akayesu, was the Bourgmestre (mayor) of Taba and was indicted on 15 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II thereto.
On 2 September 1998, Trial Chamber I of the ICTR unanimously found Akayesu guilty of nine out of the 15 counts on which he was charged, and not guilty of six counts in his Indictment. Specifically, he was found guilty of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity (extermination, murder, torture, rape, and other inhumane acts).
The Trial Chamber found that the aggravating factors far outweighed the mitigating factors, especially in light of the fact that Akayesu had consciously chosen to participate in the genocide. For this reason, the Chamber imposed several terms of imprisonment on Akayesu, noting that each sentence should be served concurrently. Hence, it directed that he should serve a single sentence of life imprisonment.
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The original indictment had charged Akayesu, as bourgmestre (mayor) of Taba commune, with involvement in criminal acts committed between 7 April and the end of June 1994 in this commune. The Accused had been charged under Article 6(1) of the Statute with genocide (Count 1); complicity in genocide (Count 2); crimes against humanity (Counts 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11); direct and public incitement to commit genocide (Count 4); violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions (Counts 6, 8, 10 and 12).
On 17 June 1997, the original indictment was amended with three additional counts of sexual violence, violence and murder perpetrated at the bureau communal between 7 April and the end of June 1994 being included. Akayesu was thus charged under Article 6(1) and /or Article 6(3) of the Statute with rape (Count 13) and other inhumane acts (Count 14) as crimes against humanity, and violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Article 4(2)(e) of Additional Protocol II (outrages upon personal dignity, in particular rape, humiliating and degrading treatment and indecent assault, Count 15).
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The Accused appealed both the judgment and the sentence imposed on him. The Prosecution also submitted four grounds of appeal. The Appeals Chamber dismissed the Accused's appeal in its entirety and clarified the issues of law raised by the Prosecution.
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Legally relevant facts
The Trial Chamber was satisfied that between 7 April and 18 April 1994 the Accused took action to protect the citizens of Taba commune. However, the Chamber found that after 18 April the Accused did not attempt to prevent killings of Tutsi (paras. 192-193).
With regard to the role of the Accused in the murder of Sylvère Karera, the Trial Chamber concluded that the Prosecution had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that at least one of the perpetrators had been turned over alive to Mr. Akayesu and that he had failed to take any measures to have him arrested (para. 218).
The Chamber further found that the Accused had ordered the deaths and had been present when Mr. Karangwa's brothers were killed by policemen under the immediate authority of the Accused (para. 268).
The Chamber was satisfied that it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Akayesu had released eight detained men of Runda commune and thathe had handed them over to Interahamwe who killed them following the orders of the Accused (para. 309).
The Chamber also found that on or about 19 April 1994, Mr. Akayesu had ordered the locals and Interahamwe to kill intellectuals and that teachers from Taba had been killed pursuant to his instructions (para. 313).
Regarding the gathering in Gishyeshye sector on 19 April 1994, the Chamber found that the Accused had been present and that he had named Mr. Karangwa as an accomplice of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) (paras. 381, 384).
The Chamber also concluded that the Accused had conducted house-to-house searches in Taba and had been present during the beatings that took place (paras. 405, 415).
The Chamber further found that the Accused had known that sexual violence was taking place on or near the premises of the bureau communal and that he had ordered, instigated and otherwise aided and abetted it (para. 452).
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Core legal questions
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- Whether the Accused had committed the crimes he had been charged with;
- Whether the Chamber may find the Accused guilty of all the crimes charged in relation to a specific set of facts, once these facts are established, or only one;
- Whether the genocidal intent is a requirement to establish accomplice liability in genocide;
- Whether the crime of direct and public incitement to commit genocide can be punished even where such incitement was unsuccessful;
- To what extent acts of sexual violence can constitute or crimes against humanity;
- Under which conditions rape can constitute genocide;
- What the appropriate sentence would be, in case the Accused was found guilty.
Specific legal rules and provisions
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- Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions.
- Article 3, 4(2)(e) of Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions.
- Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6(1),(3), 8, 12(3)(c), 17, 20(4)(g), 22, 23, 26 and 27 of the ICTR Statute.
- Rules 40, 62, 66(A), 73, 84, 85, 89(A),(C), 90bis (b), 91, 96(i), 98, 100, 101, 102, 103 and 104 of the ICTR RPE.
Court's holding and analysis
With regard to Counts 6, 8, 10, 12 (violations of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, murder and cruel treatment) and 15 (violations of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, outrages upon personal dignity, in particular rape) of the Indictment, the Trial Chamber found the Accused not guilty (para. 644). However, the Chamber found the Accused guilty of murder as a crime against humanity (Counts 5, 7, 9) (paras. 653, 661, 671). The Chamber also convicted the Accused also on Counts 4 (direct and public incitement to commit genocide), 11 (torture as a crime against humanity), 13 (rape as a crime against humanity) and 14 (other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity) (paras. 675, 682, 696-697).
As far as Counts 1 (genocide) and 2 (complicity in genocide) are concerned, the Chamber held that the acts described in the relevant parts of the Indictment constituted the crime of genocide but not the crime of complicity. Thus, the Accused was found guilty of genocide (para. 734).
Regarding the charge of extermination as a crime against humanity (Count 3), the Chamber found the Accused guilty (para. 744).
The Chamber imposed several terms of imprisonment on the Accused, ranging from 10 years to life and it decided that each sentence should be served concurrently. Therefore, it directed that the Accused should serve a single sentence of life imprisonment (Sentence).
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- A.M. de Brouwer, Supranational Prosecution of Sexual Violence: The ICC and the Practice of the ICTY and the ICTR , Oxford: Intersentia 2005;
- S. Chenault, 'And since Akayesu? The Development of ICTR Jurisprudence on Gender Crimes: A Comparison of Akayesu and Muhimana', New England Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2008, Vol. 14, pp. 221-250;
- P.J. Magnarella, 'Some Milestones and Achievements at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: the 1998 Kambanda and Akayesu Cases', 1996-1997, Florida Journal of International Law, Vol 11, pp. 517-538;
- J.E. Alvarez, 'Lessons from the Akayesu Judgment', ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, 1998-1999, Vol. 5, pp. 359-381;
- C.A. MacKinnon, 'Defining Rape Internationally: A Comment on Akayesu', Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, 2005-2006, Vol. 44, pp. 940-;
- Bernard H. Oxman, 'International Decisions', American Journal of International Law, 1999, Vol. 93, pp. 195-;
- T.M.C. Asser Institute, 'Sexual Crimes Under International Law - Brief Historical Introduction'.
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- Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field (GC I), 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 35, entered into force 21 October 1950.
- Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea (GC II), 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 81, entered into force 21 October 1950.
- Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (GC III), 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 135, entered into force 21 October 1950.
- Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (GC IV), 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 287, entered into force 21 October 1950.
- Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (AP II), 1125 UNTS 609, 8 June 1977, entered into force 7 December 1979.
- Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR Statute), UN Doc S/RES/955, UN Security Council, 1994.
- Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR RPRE), UN Doc ITR/3/Rev. 6, adopted on 29 June 1995, as amended on 8 June 1998.
- ICTR, 'Historic Judgement Finds Akayesu Guilty of Genocide', ICTR News, 2 September 1998;
- ICTR, 'Jean-Paul Akayesu Sentenced to Life Imprisonment', ICTR Press Release, 2 October 1998;
- UN, 'Rwanda International Criminal Tribunal Pronounces Guilty Verdict in Historic Genocide Trial', UN Press Release, 2 September 1998;
- TRIAL, Fact sheet on Akayesu;
- J. McKinley, 'U.N. Tribunal, in First Such Trial Verdict, Convicts Rwandan Ex-Mayor of Genocide', The New York Times, 3 September 1998;
- Unknown, 'When Rape Becomes Genocide', The New York Times, 5 September 1998;
- Unknown, 'World News Briefs: Rwandan Said to Appeal Genocide Conviction', The New York Times, 2 October 1998.