Prosecutor v. Rutaganda

Citation: ICTR-96-3

Link to the full case: http://unictr.irmct.org/en/cases/ictr-96-3

Date of Trial Judgment: 6 December 1999

Date of Appeal Judgment: 26 May 2003


This marked the ICTR’s first conviction for war crimes under Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Georges Anderson Rutaganda was the former second Vice-President of the Interahamwe militia in Rwanda in 1994. He was tried for his involvement in massacres of civilians, wherein he used his authority over the militia to order the separation of Hutus from Tutsis, to distribute weapons, and to direct the killings of thousands of Tutsis. The prosecution charged Rutaganda with direct responsibility for genocide; crimes against humanity including rape and sexual violence for acts of extermination and murder; and war crimes for acts of violence to life.


In 1999, an ICTR Trial Chamber convicted Rutaganda of genocide, crimes against humanity for acts of extermination, and crimes against humanity for acts of murder.


In 2003, the Appeals Chamber affirmed the conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity for acts of extermination, but overturned the conviction for crimes against humanity for acts of murder. It overturned the Trial Court’s finding of not-guilty with respect to war crimes for acts of violence to life. It also established important precedent regarding the specific intent (mens rea) requirement for the crime of genocide and the nexus requirement for war crimes, holding that genocidal intent of the accused may be inferred from the general context of acts perpetrated by others and that an offence must be “closely related” to the armed conflict to establish liability for war crimes. The Appeals Chamber affirmed Rutaganda’s life sentence.


Summary based on notes from the IJRC