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Rwanda: Further information on death penalty / unfair trial

, Index number: AFR 47/020/1997

Deogratias Bizimana, Egide Gatanazi: The Court of Appeal in Kigali has confirmed the convictions and death sentences against the above men. It reportedly did not acknowledge that their trial had been unfair and denied that the defendants had been refused access to a defence lawyer. The defendants were not present at the appeal, nor were the lawyers who had acted on their behalf during the appeal procedure. The defendants had not been given advance notice of the date of the appeal hearing.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 47/20/97
3 June 1997
Further information on UA 02/97 (AFR 47/01/97, 3 January 1997) and follow-up
(AFR 47/04/97, 13 January 1997 and AFR 47/05/97, 20 January 1997) -
Death penalty / unfair trial
RWANDADeogratias Bizimana
Egide Gatanazi
The Court of Appeal in Kigali confirmed the convictions and death sentences
of Deogratias Bizimana and Egide Gatanazi in April 1997. The defendants had
appealed on several grounds, including that they had been denied access to
legal defence and had had insufficient time to prepare their defence in advance
of their trial in Kibungo on 3 January 1997.
The Court of Appeal reportedly did not acknowledge that their trial had been
unfair. It denied that the defendants had been refused access to a defence
lawyer and claimed that they had had adequate time to prepare their defence.
The defendants were not present at the appeal hearing, neither were the lawyers
who had acted on their behalf during the appeal procedure. The defendants had
reportedly not been given advance notice by the authorities of the date of
the appeal hearing.
Deogratias Bizimana and Egide Gatanazi were the first two people to be tried
in Rwanda on charges of participation in the genocide in 1994. Theirs were
also the first two genocide cases to be heard by a court of appeal.
Under the Organic Law 8/96 of 30 August 1996 - which governs the trials of
those accused of genocide and crimes against humanity - the decision of the
court of appeal is not subject to appeal or review. A further judicial review
may only be possible if the Prosecutor General of the Supreme Court decides
to refer a case to the court of cassation in the interests of the law, within
three months. As a last resort, the defendants can appeal to the President
for clemency.
It is not known when executions may take place in Rwanda. However, on 19 May,
the government issued a decree outlining some of the modalities for execution,
indicating that preparations may be underway for executions to begin in the
near future.
François Bizumutima, Augustin Ngendahayo, Faustin Niyonzima and Ignace
Nsengiyumva (the other defendants featured in this Urgent Action) have also
filed appeals. To Amnesty International’s knowledge, their appeals have not
yet been heard.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in English or French or in your own language:
- expressing grave concern that the Court of Appeal confirmed the death sentences
of Deogratias Bizimana and Egide Gatanazi and did not acknowledge that their
trial had been unfair;
- restating Amnesty International’s concerns about the unfairness of their
trial in Kibungo on 3 January 1997, in particular that they had not had access
to a defence lawyer and had had insufficient time to prepare their case;
- reiterating Amnesty International’s unconditional opposition to the death
penalty for all crimes as a state-sanctioned violation of the right to life;
appealing for Deogratias Bizimana’s and Egide Gatanazi’s death sentences to
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be commuted and for them to be given a prison sentence appropriate to the gravity
of the crime.
APPEALS TO:
President
Son Excellence Pasteur BIZIMUNGU
Président de la République
Présidence de la République
BP 15, KIGALI, Rwanda
Fax: +250 84390
Telegrams: Président Bizimungu, Kigali, Rwanda
Salutation: Monsieur le Président / Dear President
Minister of Justice
Faustin NTEZIRYAYO
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
BP 160, KIGALI, Rwanda
Fax: +250 86509
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Kigali, Rwanda
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
Procurator General
Monsieur Siméon RWAGASORE
Procureur général
Parquet général
BP 2886, KIGALI, Rwanda
Telegrams: Procureur Général, Kigali, Rwanda
Salutation: Monsieur le Procureur Général / Dear Procurator General
COPIES TO:
Prime Minister
Monsieur Pierre-Célestin RWIGEMA
Premier Ministre
BP 1334, KIGALI, Rwanda
Fax: +250 83714
and to diplomatic representatives of Rwanda accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 15 July 1997.

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