Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu

Citation: ICTR-96-4

Link to the full case: http://unictr.irmct.org/en/cases/ictr-96-4

Date of Trial Judgment: September 2, 1998

Date of Appeal Judgement: June 1, 2001


This case marked the first instance where an international tribunal convicted an individual of the crime of genocide as defined under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It was also the first case to hold that rape and sexual assault may constitute acts of genocide.


Jean-Paul Akayesu was the former mayor of Taba Commune. He was tried for allowing, promoting, and ordering the killing and rape of individuals who sought refuge at Taba Commune offices. He was charged with direct and superior responsibility for genocide; incitement to genocide; crimes against humanity for acts of extermination, murder, torture, rape, and other inhumane acts; and war crimes for acts of violence to life and outrages upon dignity.


In 1998, the ICTR Trial Chamber found Akayesu guilty of genocide; incitement to commit genocide; and crimes against humanity for acts of extermination, murder, torture, rape, and other inhumane acts. However, the Trial Chamber found Akayesu not guilty of complicity in genocide and war crimes. The Trial Court sentenced Akayesu to life imprisonment. In 2001, the ICTR Appeals Chamber rejected Akayesu’s appeal and affirmed his life sentence.


Summary based on notes from the IJRC