Genocide: Up to now, the legal riddle remains unanswered.

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By Didas Gasana

I posted this on my facebook wall on April 12, 2013:

“After hearing 242 witnesses, admitting some 1,600 exhibits, producing 30,000 pages of transcripts and receiving 4,500 pages of closing arguments by the parties, the ICTR trial judges came to a decision that profoundly questioned the nature of the genocide in Rwanda as a carefully orchestrated crime. That was in Bagosora Theoneste’s trial.

In his sentencing, all elements of the conspiracy alleged by the Office of the Prosecutor were dismissed. The creation and work of a military commission chaired by Bagosora in 1991 were not considered as criminal; the 1992-reported warning by the accused that he was going to “prepare the apocalypse” proved to come from two highly suspicious witnesses who contradicted themselves; Bagosora and others had played a role in the creation, arming and training of civil militias, but the judges could not conclude that “these efforts were directed at killing Tutsi civilians with the intention to commit genocide”; the organisation of civil defence was insufficient to claim conspiracy; the preparation of lists targeting Tutsis and members of the political opposition did “not show that the purpose of the lists was to identify Tutsis, as such, and to eliminate them”, there was “considerable evidence” of death-squad activity in Rwanda before April 1994 and several sources say that Bagosora was a member of them.

Yet the evidence was indirect, second-hand, proved nothing in legal terms, and did “not mean that [they were] preparing a genocide.” Thus, “It is not argued that the accused simultaneously agreed to a plan, or that such a plan consisted of a single course of equally-divided or unified conduct,” carefully wrote the judges.

In the end, Bagosora was solely held responsible for failing to prevent crimes committed by his subordinates over a period of 65 hours during which he had effective control. Minus planning, according to the UN convention on genocide, there is no genocide. What do you think? Have your say.”

Up to now, the legal riddle remains unanswered. Either; out of “political correctness”, we modify the UN convention to suit the emerging legal challenges as far as the Rwandan “genocide” is concerned or we let the cookies crumble- i.e; we agree that what happened are purely two-way ethnic massacres or war crimes.

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