Dutch Court finds Rwandan Militiaman guilty of torture 23 Mar 2009
The District Court of The Hague has sentenced former Hutu militiaman Joseph Mpambara to 20 Years imprisonment for committing torture during the Rwandan genocide

On 23 March 2009 the Hague District Court sentenced Joseph Mpambara to 20 years’ imprisonment for committing torture during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Joseph Mpambara had also been charged with war crimes under the Dutch war crimes legislation, however the court acquitted him of war crimes charges since his actions “did not serve military purposes” and was not part of the Rwandan government fighting Tutsis.

Joseph Mpambara was charged with 5 counts under the Dutch War Crimes Act as well as under the Torture Act. The charges included killing of women and children; the killing and/or inflicting bodily and/or mental harm to a large number of people who fled to the complex of the Seventh-Day Adventists in Mugonero; hostage taking; rape and abduction.

The court held that he was involved in several attacks on Tutsis in Mugonero, in the Kibuye region in western Rwanda. It was found that Mpambara, a member of the Interahamwe, a militia of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development, ordered the killing of wounded Tutsi women and children transported by an ambulance when it was stopped at a checkpoint. Joseph Mpambara was acquitted of involvement in the massacre of hundreds of other Tutsis sheltering in a church and of raping four women and killing one of them.

Joseph Mpambara

Joseph Mpambara applied for asylum in the Netherlands in 1998 but his application was denied. Dutch authorities launched an investigation against Joseph Mpambara and he was arrested in 2006.

Prosecutors had originally charged Joseph Mpambara with genocide. However, on 21 October 2008, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled that Dutch courts have no jurisdiction to try Joseph Mpambara for genocide, affirming two previous rulings from The Hague District Court in July 2007 and The Hague Court of Appeals in December 2007. At the time, The Hague District Court had acknowledged the existence of a lacuna in Dutch criminal law, recognising that there was a risk that there would be no prosecutions in such cases.

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Court documents / Documents juridiques

Judgement Summary (in Dutch)
23 March 2009

Supreme Court Ruling in J.M. Case (in Dutch)
21 October 2008

Related news items / Informations complémentaires

Hague District Court declares genocide complaint inadmissible

Le tribunal de grande instance de La Haye déclare irrecevable une plainte pour génocide
8 August 2007