ARUSHA, Tanzania (INTERNEWS) -The Appeals Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Monday 23rd May, 2005 set aside a life sentence of a former Rwandan Mayor convicted for his role in the 1994 genocide, and instead gave him a 45 years jail sentence.
Fifty-four-year old Juvenal Kajelijeli, a former mayor of Mukingo Commune, Ruhengeri, northern Rwanda, was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2003 but he challenged the verdict.
Presiding Judge Fausto Pocar said that the appeals chamber concluded that the appellant s fundamental rights were violated during his arrest and detention in Benin.
He noted that the accused was wrongly detained for a total of 306 days in Benin and the UNDF and was not promptly informed of the reasons for his arrest or of the provisional charges against him.
The judge stated: In view of the serious violations of the appellant s fundamental rights during his arrest and detention in Benin and the UNDF from 5 June 1998 to 6 April 1998, and considering the appellant s entitlement to an effective remedy, the appellant s two life sentences and 15 years sentences as imposed by the trial chamber shall be set aside and converted into a single sentence consisting of a fixed term of imprisonment of 45years.
He added that Kajelijeli would get a credit for the period already served in detention.
The ICTR Prosecutor accepted the appeals court decision, and said that his tribunal and all UN member states should be mindful of such fundamental violations like of Kajelijeli. As of now, we will have to be mindful of such violations to ensure that all states and ICTR observe proper procedures to stop recurrence of such situations, he told reporters when asked to comment on Kajelijeli s violations.
The UN tribunal which was created in 1994 to try the key perpetrators of the genocide has so far delivered 25 judgements; 22 convictions and three acquittals.
Trials are on for 25 detainees and 18 others are awaiting trials.
More than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the slaughter which triggered following the shooting down of the plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994, near the capital, Kigali.
Habyarimana was returning from a regional peace meeting in Dar es Salaam. Also killed in the same place was Burundi s President Cyprien Ntaryamira.