INTERNEWS(Arusha,Tanzania)–The U.N International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on May 20,2005, dismissed an application of former Rwandan mayor accused of the 1994 genocide and instead increased his imprisonment by additional ten years.

Laurent Semanza(61), was on May 15,2003 found guilty of six counts and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, but he challenged the trial chamber sentencing on 22 grounds, which the appeals court dismissed all of them as groundless .

Presiding Judge Theodor Meron said that the accused, former Bicumbi, Kigali Rural Mayor, merited a much higher sentencing because of the gravity of crimes committed during the 100-day slaughter.

The genocide claimed lives of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The Appeals Chamber is not satisfied with sentences for complicity in genocide and aiding and abetting extermination that the trial chamber imposed he said., adding that the sentence be increased by 10 years to reflect Semanza s responsibility for ordering genocide and extermination at Musha Church in Gikoro commune, near the capital Kigali.

The prosecution had claimed that Semanza ordered and directed killings of thousands of Tutsi civilians who had sought refuge at the Church.

The judge however said that Semanza was granted a credit of nine years for the period already spent in detention, and subject to a further six-month reduction as ordered by the trial chamber for violations of fundamental pre-trial rights.

On Semanza s allegations of chamber s bias, the appeals court ruled that the appellant has not satisfied his burden of showing bias on the part of the trial chamber by rebutting the presumption impartiality.

The appeals chamber also concluded that the appellant had failed to show that the trial chamber unreasonably ignored insufficiencies or contradictions in the evidence pertaining to Semanza s identification for the events at Musha Church, the judge said, instead noted that there was sufficient evidence and credible evidence to show that the accused participated in the church killings.

Semanza once served as Central Committee member of the extremist Hutu MRND party during the genocide, and was a close friend of the former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.

This is frivolous justice and judicial sacrifice it s inadmissible and unacceptable, claimed Charles Taku, lead counsel of Semanza. He said that the court has shown bias simply because Semanza was a close friend of late Juvenal Habyarimana.

The ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, welcomed the judgement, saying that Semanza has received an appropriate sentencing for his role in the 1994 genocide.

The UN Court, which was established by the Security Council in 1994, has 63 detainees in custody and trials for 25 accused are underway.

Since the court was set up, 22 accused have been convicted and three acquitted.


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