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The BBC's Jane Standley reports
"There have been very few convictions and a growing sense of anger."
 real 28k

Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Rwanda genocide appeal fails
Jean Kambanda , former Prime Minister of Rwanda
Former PM Jean Kambanda must serve life sentence
The former Prime Minister of Rwanda, Jean Kambanda, has lost his appeal against his conviction for genocide.

His request for a re-trial has also been turned down by the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, sitting in The Hague.

Mr Kambanda is one of only a handful of people detained by the tribunal, to have been judged by it, since it was set up five years ago.

He became prime minister of Rwanda at the start of the 1994 genocide in which at least half a million Tutsis and Hutu moderates were killed.

Mr Kambanda became the first head of government to be convicted of genocide two years ago, when he was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the 1994 massacres.

Plea changed

Since his arrest in Kenya three years ago, Mr Kambanda's case has become increasingly complicated.

When he first appeared in court, Mr Kambanda pleaded guilty to six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

He was given a life sentence, which he appealed.

He then sprung a surprise earlier this year when he changed his lawyer, asked the appeals chamber to quash the guilty verdict and order a new trial.

Mr Kambanda claimed he did not receive enough advice before pleading guilty and wanted to retract his confession, arguing that he was not allowed a lawyer of his choice before signing his guilty plea.

'Understood charges'

At his initial appearance though, Jean Kambanda said he was pleading guilty voluntarily, and that he fully understood the charges against him.

On this basis, the odds of him being granted a retrial were small.

Jean Kambanda's conviction was one of the few major achievements of the UN tribunal.

The tribunal's work has been slowed, not only by its own ineptitude but also by protracted legal arguments from most of the suspects it has in custody, who regularly change their defence lawyers.

Tribunal's slow progress

One trial which has been affected - of journalists who are charged with inciting genocide - is finally due to start next week after several such delays.

It means that so far, there have been very few convictions and a growing sense of anger and disappointment among survivors of the Rwandan genocide.

Dozens have been killed by Hutu extremists to prevent them becoming prosecution witnesses and many others have now been removed from Rwanda by the tribunal for their own safety.

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See also:

19 Oct 00 | Africa
Rwanda's healing process
12 Oct 00 | Africa
Genocide suspect to be deported
18 Mar 99 | Africa
Eyewitness: Rwanda's survivors
25 Apr 00 | Africa
Rwandan police chief extradited
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