KIGALI, 10 April 2021 – The Rwandan government has welcomed a court ruling rejecting a request for early release by convict genocide mastermind Theoneste Bagosora.
Judge Carmel Agius, President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), ruled that the 79-year-old Bagosora will remain behind bars.
“The extremely high gravity of Bagosora’s crimes weighs very heavily against his early release,” Judge Carmel Agius said in handing down the ruling.
“We concur with the reasoning and motivation of the decision of President Judge Carmel Agius,” Rwanda’s Justice Ministry said on its official Twitter handle.
The judge said Bagosora has, so far, offered no indication that he has accepted responsibility for the crimes of which he was convicted, nor are there any signs that he has reflected critically, or expressed any remorse or regret.
Bagosora’s petition for early release said he would leave the country, if released, and would live the rest of his life in the Kingdom of the Netherlands or in Mali.
The ruling is a victory for the Rwandan government which submitted a counter-petition.
Early release “would cause irreparable harm to the victims of Bagosora’s crimes,” Kigali argued in the counter-petition.
Arrested in March 1996 in Cameroon and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1997, Bagosora was an ex-FAR Colonel and was one of the masterminds of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi that claimed one million lives.
He was the highest authority in the Ministry of Defence and exercised control over the army of the genocidal regime that worked with Interahamwe to slaughter Tutsis.
He was also a core member of the Akazu, the inner circle at the heart of the preparation of the Genocide.
Bagosora was convicted, among others, for his role in the systematic killing of prominent personalities and opposition political figures on the morning of April 7, 1994, as the genocide got underway.
Those killed included the then Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, the then president of the Constitutional Court, Joseph Kavaruganda, Frederic Nzamurambaho, who was chair of the Parti Social Democrate and was Minister of Agriculture at the time.
On 18 December 2008, Bagosora was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of genocide, murder, extermination, persecution and crimes against humanity, violence to life and outrages upon personal dignity, as well as rape.
His sentence was reduced by the Appeals Chamber on 14 December 2011 to 35 years in prison, a term he has been serving in Mali since 1 July 2012.