Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, (81) former senior pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist church who on 19 February 2003 was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment after being convicted of aiding and abetting genocide in Rwanda, was today released from prison at the end of his sentence.
Pastor Ntakirutimana was first arrested on 29 September 1996 in Texas, USA, and then released and re-arrested. He was transferred to the Detention Facility in Arusha on 24 March 2000 and made his initial appearance on 31 March 2000.
During his sentencing Trial Chamber I of the Tribunal ruled that credit was to be given for the time the accused had already served on remand in the United States and Arusha, Tanzania.
The accused becomes the first ICTR convict to be released after serving his sentence. Elizaphan was jointly charged with his son Gerard, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The two accused jointly faced two indictments, the ‘Mugonero’ indictment with five counts and the ‘Bisesero’ indictment with seven counts. Both indictments charged the accused with genocide, or in the alternative complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide as well as crimes against humanity.
The Appeals Chamber found Elizaphan Ntakirutimana guilty of aiding and abetting in genocide and aiding and abetting extermination as a crime against humanity. It confirmed the Trial Chamber factual findings that he had transported attackers to places where they pursued and killed Tutsi refuges, and in the area of Bisesero he went to Murambi church and ordered the removal of the church roof so that it could no longer be used as shelter for the Tutsi, thus facilitating their being hunted down and killed.