Rwandan ex-mayor appeals genocide verdict

OWN CORRESPONDENT, Arusha | Thursday 7.30pm.

THE former mayor of the Rwandan Taba commune during the 1994 genocide has appealed his conviction of crimes against humanity by the Untited Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, sitting in Arusha, Tanzania. The UN tribunal convicted 45-year-old Jean-Paul Akayesu of nine counts of genocide and crimes against humanity, including incitement to torture, rape, and kill, on September 2 after a 15-month trial.

Akayesu is to be sentenced on Friday. The prosecution has requested a life sentence, the maximum the tribunal can hand down.

A former Prime Minister of Rwanda, Jean Kambanda, who pleaded guilty to genocide before the tribunal, recieved a life sentence earlier this month. He has appealed, saying the sentence is too harsh and does not take into account his plea.

Akayesu, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, filed his appeal on September 28 through Candanian lawyer John Philippot, who argued that Akayesu, who conducted his own sentencing arguments after falling out with two court-appointed defence counsels, was victim of a denial of due process because he had been unable to engage a lawyer of his choice.

He also contested the impartiality of the tribunal, saying that both sides in the civil war had committed crimes.

Meanwhile the UN Security Council has nominated 18 judges for the tribunal at Arusha. The list has been forwarded the list to the General Assembly for election to the three trial chambers.

In a resolution unanimously adopted on Wednesday, the council forwarded the names of Eugene Liliane (Madagascar), Pavel Dolenc (Slovenia), Salifou Fomba (Mali) and Willy C. Gaa (Philippines). It also selected Asoka de Gunawardena (Sri Lanka) Mehmet Guney (Turkey), Edoukou Jean-Baptiste Kaplan (Cote D’Ivoire), Laity Kama (Senegal), Dionysios Kondylis (Greece) and Bouba Mahamane (Niger). Other candidates are Erik Mose (Norway), Yakov Ostrovsky (Russia), Cheick Dimkinsedo Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Navanethem Pillay (South Africa), Indira Rana (Nepal), William Sekule (Tanzania), Tilahun Teshome (Ethiopia) and Lloyd George Williams (Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis).

Four of the 18 candidates shortlisted are among the six serving members of the tribunal. From the shortlist, the assembly is expected to elect nine. Elected judges are to serve a tenure of four years.

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