Bagilishema, Ignace

During the events from April until July 1994 in Rwanda, Ignace Bagilishema held the position of Bourgmestre (Mayor) of Mabanza commune. Bagilishema was charged under an Amended Indictment with genocide, complicity in genocide, violations of the Geneva Conventions, as well as murder, extermination and other inhumane acts as crimes against humanity.

According to the Indictment, Bagilishema was responsible for attacks on Tutsi civilians in the Mabanza, Gishyita and Gisovu communes, as well as in Kibuye Town. During these attacks, Bagilishema was accused of arming Interahamwe militias, ordering the attacks, personally participating in the killing of civilians and encouraging the setting up of roadblocks to identify Tutsis to be killed. After fleeing Rwanda Bagilishema was arrested in South Africa in 1999.

At his initial appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Bagilishema refused to enter a plea. However, after an Amended Indictment was filed by the Prosecutor following the severance of Bagilishema’s trial from the seven accused with whom he was initially charged, Bagilishema pleaded not guilty to the seven new counts. Proceedings in the trial began on 27 October 1999, and on 7 June 2001 Bagilishema was acquitted of all the charges – genocide and two counts of war crimes by unanimous decision, and the remaining counts by majority – after the  Chamber decided that the prosecution had not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt. The decision was the first acquittal by the ICTR.

After the prosecution lodged an appeal against the decision, on 3 July 2002 the Appeal Chamber upheld Bagilishema’s acquittal by unanimous decision, ordering his immediate release.

Research/ miscellaneous (Research Document)
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