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Rwanda protests early release of genocide prisoner

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By RODRIGUES RWIRAHIRA
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Rwanda is vehemently opposed to the planned early release of Aloys Simba, a genocide convict serving a 25-year sentence since 2005.

Lt-Col Simba, 80, was imprisoned in Cotonou, Benin and was due to be released on March 19, 2028.

The Ministry of Justice in a statement Friday said that Kigali learnt of his early release on December 14 during a meeting between the Rwandan ambassador to the United Nations and Judge Theodor Meron, President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

Kigali says Lt-Col Simba should serve his entire sentence as he “has shown no remorse and has not cooperated, in any way, with investigators and prosecutors.”

“This unilateral action by Judge Meron comes over the objections of the Government of Rwanda and despite the dire consequences of Simba’s release for the survivors of his crimes,” a statement by the Ministry of Justice reads.

“One might legitimately question whether the deliberate massacre of more than 1,000 innocent civilians is adequately punished by a term of 25 years imprisonment – in other words, whether imprisonment for three months or less for each helpless victim adequately reflects the severity of the crime. But Judge Meron somehow believes that greater leniency is due and has decided to set Simba free eight years before the end of his sentence.”

Rwanda accuses the judge of creating an “arbitrary and automatic rule not required by statute and unburdened by individualised considerations and assessment”, which it says is not justice.

The government expressed concerns over “continuous biased decisions” by the judge saying he has reversed convictions, reduced sentences, and released criminals long before they served their duly imposed prison terms.

Kigali said should Simba be released, he should be handed over so as to “help advance his demobilisation and integration, as has been the case for countless individuals in Rwanda.”

Aloys Simba was arrested in Senegal in 2001 and convicted for his active role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis. He was accused of supplying weapons and ordering the Interahamwe militia to kill people who had sought refuge at a church, Kaduha Parish.

In August this year, Ibuka, an umbrella of genocide survivors petitioned the UN Security Council and the Mechanism of International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) on the early releases of genocide convicts arguing that freedom of the convicts would further aid in the spread of genocide ideology.



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