Rwandan Prosecution Appeals for Life Sentence for Genocide Acquitted Wenceslas Twagirayezu

Wenceslas Twagirayezu

Kigali, Rwanda- May 23, 2024: The Rwandan Prosecution has requested the Court of Appeals on Thursday to convict Wenceslas Twagirayezu of genocide and sentence him to life imprisonment. Earlier this year, Twagirayezu, who was extradited from Denmark to Rwanda to face genocide charges, was acquitted by the High Court of all charges against him. Twagirayezu is the first individual to be acquitted among those extradited to Rwanda from various countries for genocide trials. The Prosecution promptly appealed the decision.

Today, the Prosecution urged the Court of Appeals to uphold its case, asserting that in April 1994, Twagirayezu was in Rwanda and participated in attacks that resulted in the massacre of Tutsis in Mudende, at ‘Komine Rouge,’ and at the Busasamana church in the former Gisenyi prefecture.

The Prosecutor argued that the High Court ignored significant evidence and testimony against Twagirayezu, particularly his own written statement in which he admitted to Danish immigration authorities that he was in Rwanda from April 1 to July 1994.

In contrast, Twagirayezu and his defense team have asked the Court of Appeals to dismiss the Prosecution’s request, arguing that the evidence presented does not conclusively prove his involvement in the genocide. They have provided irrefutable evidence that Twagirayezu was not in Rwanda when the genocide began on April 7, 1994. Twagirayezu, 56, stated that from late March until April 9, 1994, he was on Easter vacation in Zaïre, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Twagirayezu’s defense team also contended that the Prosecution failed to present conclusive evidence during the appeal and that the testimonies against him were contradictory. They requested the court to uphold the High Court’s decision, which acquitted their client.

The appeal hearing concluded, and the Court’s decision is scheduled to be delivered on June 21, 2024.