Prosecutor v. Semanza

Citation: ICTR-97-20

Link to the full case: http://unictr.irmct.org/en/cases/ictr-97-20

Trial Judgment: 15 May 2003; Appeal Judgment: 20 May 2005


Laurent Semanza was the former Bourgmestre (mayor) of Bicumbi Commune. He was tried for the violence committed at Ruhanga church and Musha church in Gikoro Commune and at Mwulire Hill and Mabare mosque in Bicumbi Commune between April and July 1994. The prosecution charged Semanza with direct and superior responsibility for genocide, incitement to commit genocide; complicity to commit genocide; crime against humanity for acts of murder, extermination, persecution, torture, and rape; and war crimes for acts of violence to life and outrages upon dignity.


In 2003, an ICTR Trial Chamber convicted Semanza of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity for massacres committed at Musha Church and Mwulire Hill and convicted Semanza of murder, rape, and torture as crimes against humanity for instigating a crowed in Gikoro Commune to rape Tutsi women before killing them.


In 2005, the Appeals Chamber rejected all his appeals, including his contention that the Trial Chamber was biased against him, and accepted the prosecution’s appeal that the Trial Chamber had erred in its assessment of Semanza’s liability for crimes committed at Musha Church and reversed Semanza’s acquittal on the charges of war crimes. In light of the Trial Court’s errors, the Appeals Chamber increased Semanza’s sentence from 25 years’ imprisonment to 35 years’ imprisonment.


Summary based on notes from the IJRC