According to the Swedish newspaper Dagens Juridik, the Örebro district court in Sweden determines the life sentence for Stanislas Mbanenande, a 64-year-old man who was convicted in 2012 of genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda in the summer of 1994.
The man’s relapse risk is assessed as low, he has behaved exemplary during his years in prison – and he lacks several of the most common risk factors.
The life sentence is therefore converted to 24 years in prison and the man can thus be paroled in five years.
It was at the end of 2012 that the now 64-year-old man was charged with genocide and gross violations of international law at the Stockholm district court. He was later convicted of both genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda during the summer of 1994.
On December 22 this year, he had served 11 years in custody, but before that he had applied to have his life sentence suspended.
Resigned to his fate
At a hearing in Örebro district court regarding a possible time limit, he stated, among other things, that he still denies committing the crime – but that he has come to terms with his fate. He also pointed out that he had been placed in four institutions before he was moved to the Täby institution last spring.
He described himself as “lucky” to receive furloughs and stated that he had been active in all the institutions where he had been. At the moment he works in the textile industry. He also emphasized that he is not a dangerous person.
“Extremely unusual case”
he Probation Service stated in its statement that the 64-year-old “showed good behavior” and has completed all furloughs without complaint. The authority also assesses that he “promoted his reintegration into society”. According to the Prison Service, it would take around 2.5-3 years to make the necessary preparations for the release of the 64-year-old.
The Swedish Medical Examiner’s Office, RMV, which also commented, stated that the 64-year-old lacks most of the usual risk factors. In their opinion, early conduct disorder, substance abuse, personality disorder, history of criminal behavior or attitudes are absent. They further stated that the 64-year-old “lived a pro-social life both before and after the acts for which he was convicted”.
According to RMV, this is an “extremely unusual case in this context” as the usual risk assessment instruments are poorly adapted for this type of crime and the knowledge of the risk of recidivism in similar crime is “extremely limited”. RMV refers to the fact that the only actual known historical risk factor is that the man committed an inherently extremely serious crime.
“However, he has neither before nor after that incident been accused of violence or other criminality, but has rather lived a pro-social life with family and support through various qualified assignments. It is also about fifteen years that passed between the acts and the arrest without him committing a crime, which almost by definition means a low risk of recidivism”, writes RMV and makes the assessment that the risk of recidivism is low.
Converted to 24 years in prison
Örebro District Court follows the RMV’s line and considers it demonstrated that there is no concrete and considerable risk of serious relapse. The risk of recidivism thus does not constitute an obstacle to a conversion to a fixed-term sentence, states the district court. In light of the extremely serious crimes the man was convicted of, and the high penalty value these have, there is no possibility of converting the prison sentence to less than 24 years in prison. That would mean a conditional release in five years – which is significantly longer than what the Correctional Service stated as necessary. According to the district court, there is also a risk that the risk assessment will become out of date.
However, the district court points to practice which states that the interest in a renewed risk assessment cannot be considered to constitute an obstacle to a decision on conversion – as long as the risk of recurrence is low and there are no special circumstances that mean it can be assumed to change. In this case, the district court does not see that there is anything that speaks for a changed risk assessment in the next five years.
The life sentence must therefore be converted to 24 years in prison.