Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bagaragaza Update: A Plea Saves the Day

We blogged earlier on the surreal scenario involving Michel Bagaragaza (left), an International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) indictee. (Bagaragaza voluntarily submitted himself to the ICTR in connection with an agreement to cooperate with the prosecution; his cooperation apparently placed his life in danger, so he spent some time in detention in the Yugoslavia tribunal.)
Twice, Bagaragaza was slated for transfer for prosecution before European courts pursuant to Rule of Procedure and Evidence 11bis, an element of the tribunals' Security Council-mandated Completion Strategies. These two attempts failed as a result of flaws or gaps in the proposed venue's domestic law. As a result, Bagaragaza languished in pre-trial detention.
After his world tour, Bagaragaza was transferred back to the ICTR. He subsequently entered a confidential plea agreement with the prosecution in June 2008, making him the ninth defendant to plead guilty of genocide in Rwanda.
The most important guilty plea to emerge from the ICTR was that of Jean Kambanda (right), the former Rwandan Prime Minister. Kambanda received a life sentence even after pleading guilty and admitting that his government planned and implemented a genocidal campaign to eradicate Tutsi citizens.
As far as I can tell, Bagaragaza's plea remains confidential, as it might exonerate another accused. (His docket is available here.) Stay tuned...

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