ICTR Appeals Chamber upholds Rwandan singer's conviction 18 Mar 2010
The Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has rejected Simon Bikindi's appeal against his conviction in its entirety.

On 18 March 2010, the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) upheld the conviction of Rwandan musician, Simon Bikindi. The Chamber also affirmed his sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, rejecting the Prosecution’s appeal against the length of the sentence.

Simon Bikindi was a well-known composer, director and singer of popular music in Rwanda, who the Appeals Chamber confirmed used his influence to incite the Genocide in 1994. The Chamber upheld Trial Chamber III’s decision of 2 December 2008, in which it found Bikindi guilty of a single count of direct and public incitement to commit genocide. The conviction was based on broadcasts on a loud speaker made by Bikindi from his car as he led a group of militias, calling on them to exterminate Tutsis.

Prosecution’s Appeal

Although the Trial Chamber established that two of Bikindi’s songs were composed with the intention to disseminate anti-Tutsi propaganda, particularly through Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), the judges ruled that the Prosecution had not established a direct link between Bikindi’s songs and any specific act of killing. Therefore, despite the Prosecution’s appeal, the Appeals Chamber found that the Prosecution has not demonstrated that the sentence was manifestly inadequate considering the gravity of the crime and Bikindi's role during the Genocide.

At his original trial, Bikindi was acquitted of five other counts, including genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, murder and persecution as crimes against humanity.

Today’s Judgment reaffirms the ICTR’s demonstration of the role the media played during the Genocide and in the perpetration of international crimes. The Tribunal has previously convicted high-profile RTLM and other media officials, including Hassan Ngeze and Ferdinand Nahimana, for their responsibility in the Genocide.

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