Prosecutor v. Gacumbitsi

Citation: ICTR-01-64

Link to the full case: http://unictr.irmct.org/en/cases/ictr-01-64

Trial Judgment: 17 June 2004; Appeal Judgment: 7 July 2006


This decision is a particularly significant one for its assessment of non-consent as an element constituting rape as a crime against humanity.


Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, the former Bourgmenstre (mayor) of Rusumo commune was tried for his organization and involvement in a massacre and other widespread crimes against Tutsis in Rusumo commune in 1994. Gacumbitsi was charged with direct and superior responsibility for genocide, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity for acts of extermination, murder, and rape.


In 2004, an ICTR Trial Chamber convicted Gacumbitsi of genocide and crimes against humanity for acts of extermination and rape after finding that Gacumbitsi was responsible for publicly instigating the rape of Tutsi women and girls and that Gacumbitsi planned, incited, and ordered,

and aided and abetted the extermination of Tutsis in Rusumo.


In 2006, the ICTR Appeals Chamber shifted from the rule established in its Akayesu decision and held that a victim’s non-consent and the defendant’s knowledge thereof are implied elements of rape as a crime against humanity. The prosecution’s evidence against Gacumbitsi satisfied these elements.


The Appeals Chamber also overturned Gacumbitsi’s acquittal for murder as a crime against humanity, finding that the Trial Chamber erred by failing to consider that Gacumbitsi aided and abetted the murder of two tenants of a property he owned by expelling them from his property, while knowing that he was exposing the tenants to the risk of being targeted by attackers. The Appeals Chamber increased the Trial Chamber’s 30-year sentence to a sentence of life imprisonment.


Summary based on notes from the IJRC