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Cablegate: Canada: Life Sentence for Rwandan War Criminal

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DE RUEHOT #0826 3021946
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 291945Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0018
INFO ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0002
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UNCLAS OTTAWA 000826

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL ICTR KAWC CA RW
SUBJECT: CANADA: LIFE SENTENCE FOR RWANDAN WAR CRIMINAL

REF: OTTAWA 383

1. (SBU) Summary: A Quebec court has sentenced D????sir????
Munyaneza, a failed Rwandan refugee claimant, to life imprisonment
with no eligibility for parole for 25 years for genocide, crimes
against humanity, and war crimes stemming from his participation in
the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The landmark sentence -- the harshest
permitted under Canadian law -- and conviction are the first under
Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act of 2000. The
sentence sets a significant precedent for future cases, and
reinforces the message that Canada will not be a safe haven for war
criminals. End summary.

2. (U) The Quebec Superior Court on October 29 sentenced
D????sir???? Munyaneza to life imprisonment, with no eligibility for
parole for 25 years on seven convictions of genocide, crimes
against humanity, and war crimes. Each of the convictions under
Canada's previously untested Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes
Act (passed in 2000) carried a mandatory minimum penalty of life
imprisonment, but he will serve sentences concurrently. The Act
permits the prosecution of Canadian residents for acts committed
overseas.

3. (U) The Court had convicted Munyaneza on May 22 after a
landmark trial on charges related to acts allegedly committed by
him between April 6 and July 4 1994 in Rwanda (ref a). Canada had
first brought the case in 2005. The prosecution met a high burden
of proof (particularly for genocide) and overcame significant
obstacles to secure the convictions, including that almost all of
the 66 witnesses were from outside Canada, many had their
identities shielded to prevent reprisals in Rwanda, and most spoke
a foreign language. In May, legal experts estimated the cost of
the trial at C$1.6 million.

4. (U) In his written decision, Superior Court Justice Andr????
Denis defended the severe sentence because "the law considers the
crimes committed by the accused to be the worst in existence." He
noted that "the accused, an educated man from a privileged
background, chose to kill, rape and pillage in the name of his
ethnic group's supremacy." Justice Denis also observed that world
history has proven that what happened in Rwanda can happen anywhere
in the world.

5. (U) Munyaneza arrived in Canada in 1997 and claimed refugee
status. Authorities refused his claim, and twice further on
appeal, before arresting him on war crimes charges in October 2005.
He has already spent four years in detention. With time already
served, the 42-year old Munyaneza still faces 21 years in prison
before becoming eligible for parole. The sentence exceeds the 20
years suggested by his defense lawyer. Munyaneza will appeal the
conviction, but the plea will likely not be heard until 2010 at the
earliest.

6. (SBU) Comment: Securing Canada's first war crimes
conviction and the maximum sentence permitted under Canadian law is
a major achievement. The case sets an important precedent and
reinforces the message that Canada has the will and the tools to
prevent the country becoming a safe haven for war criminals. That
ten years have elapsed between his arrival in Canada and his
sentencing underscores the complexity of investigations and
successful prosecution.
JACOBSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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