The Court of Appeal on Monday maintained the 25-year sentence Paul Rusesabagina was given by the High Court Chamber for International and Cross-border Crimes in September last year, after he was found guilty on terror-related charges, while the Callixte ‘Sankara’ Nsabimana had his sentence reduced to 15 years, from the 20 years he had been handed.
The Court of Appeal, led by the president Justice Francois Régis Rukundakuvuga, after examining the submissions of Prosecution, defendants and civil parties, delivered the judgement on Monday, maintaining most of the sentences the accused were handed, apart from Nsabimana, who had his sentence reduced.
Rusesabagina and 20 others, all members of the National Liberation Front (FLN), the armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), we found guilty of carrying out attacks on Rwanda’s territory, between 2018 and 2019, in which at least 9 people were killed, dozens injured and property worth millions lost.
The judgement rendering in the appeal trial commenced in the Court of Appeal on Monday morning, where judges pronounced themselves on the submissions made by all parties in the hearing which commenced in January this year.
Though the Appeal Court earlier said the High Court Chamber for International and Cross-border Crimes misinterpreted the articles of the law in acquitting some of the suspects in the trial, particularly on the crime of terrorism, it went ahead to make its own interpretation of the law and rendered its own judgement.
Angelina Mukandutiye, the only woman in the trial, had her sentence increased from 5 years to 20 years in prison, as Prosecution had requested, after it was found that she had been convicted by a previous court on Genocide-related crimes, hence her sentence increased as a result of recidivism. Court also qualified the terrorism charge which Rusesabagina, Nsabimana and Marc Nizeyimana had been acquitted.
On September 20, 2021, court cleared Rusesabagina and Nsabimana on the crime of terrorism, rather choosing to term their actions as complicit in terrorism activities but Prosecution appealed against the decision.
The Court of Appeal also maintained 20 years sentences for Nizeyimana, Cassien Bizimana, Jean Berchmans Matakamba, Emmanuel Shaban, Innocent Ntibiramira, Jean Claude Byukusenge and Jean Damascène Nsabimana, while Herman Nsengimana retained the 7-year sentence.
Court maintained the 10 year sentence for Siméon Nikuzwe while Félicien Nsanzubukire, Anastase Munyaneza, Théogène Hakizimana, Emmanuel Iyamuremye Marcel Niyirora and AndréKwitonda had their 5 year sentences maintained.
The court also pronounced itself on the claims of civil parties who felt that the High Court disregarded their grievances.