A judge at a UN court who has either freed, reduced sentences or acquitted more than a dozen people – all of who planned and executed the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda, has applied for extension of his contract.
KT Press can exclusively reveal that Judge Theodor Meron has filed a new application with the UN to add him another term as president of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (UNMICT).
It is a replacement system for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which was closed down so that Genocide cases are transferred to Rwanda.
Suspects still at large are to be tried by the country where they will be arrested. Before, the current job, Judge Meron was an Appeals Chamber judge of ICTR.
Judge Meron’s current term since 2012 will end on June 30 this year. The 88year-old wants a renewal, which means he will be 93 years when he leaves an office he has used to inflict as much pain as he can.
Judge Meron is an epitome of all things wrong following the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide. He has single-handedly delivered the most questionable verdicts at the UN court.
Judge Meron has granted early release to ten Genocide convicts, including those who were sentenced to more than 30 years in jail, after having their life sentences overturned on appeal. The convicts on the list read like horror script.
As if this number was not big enough, Judge Meron acquitted Protais Zigiranyirazo in November 2009 and, then recently, former ministers Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, all senior officials of the Akazu inner circle.
Zigiranyirazo known as “Mr. “Z” during the heydays – was brother-in-law of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.
Judge Meron also reversed convictions and reduced considerably the sentences of Col. Theoneste Bagosora–the mastermind of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi–and Lt. Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva.
The Appeals Chamber in February 2014 also acquitted General Augustin Ndindiliyimana and the former commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion, Major Francois -Xavier Nzuwonemeye while Captain Innocent Sagahutu, second-in-command of Reconnaissance Battalion , had his sentence reduced from 20 to 15 years.
In another decision in May 2004, Judge Meron ordered acquittal of Dr. Ntakirutimana Gerard, a physician and medical director who worked at Mugonero hospital of Kibuye Prefecture where French commandos were stationed.
Dr. Ntakirutimana had been earlier on sentenced to 25 years in jail for his role in the 1994 genocide.
Genocide survivors’ umbrella organisation IBUKA has described Judge Meron’s decisions as “trivializing the Genocide”.
IBUKA has vowed that it will stop at nothing to ensure the world knows Judge Meron is determined to “cleanse” genocide masterminds.
British academic and Genocide scholar Prof Linda Melvern is particularly in shock at the recent release of the chief propagandist of the genocide machinery Ferdinand Nahimana, founder of the incendiary hate radio RTLM. He was allowed to be free after 20 years in prison.
“Judge Meron has got a Legion d’Honneur… you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to find that not of great interest; If Judge Meron does not believe that hate speech is an issue, what on earth is he doing as head of MICT?” said Melvern, in an interview with The New Times, in December last year.
The litany of Judge Meron’s previous court decisions has provoked anger not only in Rwanda, but also in the former Yugoslavia.
Three years ago, a leaked confidential letter by a Danish judge Frederik Harhoff revealed that Meron had exerted “persistent and intense” pressure on his fellow judges to allow suspects go free at the Yugoslavia war crimes court.
IBUKA has repeatedly called for an urgent investigation of all the controversial decisions, which it says have only served to benefit genocide perpetrators.
“The international community failed Rwandans during the Genocide against the Tutsi yet it had its mission present in the country, today there’s an attempt, through international justice, to minimize the gravity of the genocide by releasing its top architects,” said IBUKA, in one of the protest notes sent to the UN in December.