Sunday, May 24, 2009

Québec court finds Rwandan Désiré Munyaneza guilty

In the first-ever application of Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000), the Cour supérieure of Québec found Désiré Munyaneza (left, credit) guilty of all 7 counts pending against him since 2005: genocide (intentional murder and serious bodily or mental harm), crimes against humanity (intentional murder and sexual violence) and war crimes (intentional murder, sexual violence and pillage). The charges stem from acts committed between 06 April and 04 July 1994 in Rwanda. The Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act implements the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court and the Québec court's decision, delivered by Judge André Denis, addresses an international audience, abundantly citing case law from the international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
Commentators are saying this may be just the beginning of further such trials. Indeed, one of the major obstacles in transnational trials was overcome here: almost all the witnesses hailed from beyond Canada and spoke a foreign language (Kinyarwanda). The judge's "unshakable faith" in their testimony apparently surprised the defense, which has has already made its intention to appeal known.The decision is available here.

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