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Jean Kambanda v. The Prosecutor

Court International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Appeals Chamber), Tanzania
Case number ICTR 97-23-A
Decision title Judgement
Decision date 19 October 2000
  • Jean Kambanda
  • The Prosecutor
Categories Crimes against humanity, Genocide
Keywords crimes against humanity, extermination, genocide, Murder
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The Accused in the present case was Jean Kambanda, the former Rwandan Prime Minister. On 4 September 1998, he had pleaded guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity (murder and extermination) and Trial Chamber I of the ICTR had sentenced him to life imprisonment. He appealed against that sentence and later requested that his guilty plea be quashed and that he stand trial.

Before the Appeals Chamber, Kambanda argued that he had not been assigned the lawyer of his choice and that even when he finally did receive legal representation the assignment of the lawyer was influenced by the Prosecution. He also accused his defense counsel, Mr. Oliver Michael Inglis, of inadequate representation. In addition, he claimed that the Registry had organized his detention in facilities where he was isolated from other detainees and that he felt oppressed by these arrangements. The Prosecution pointed out that, for a while, Kambanda had refused any legal representation until the Registry told him that in the interest of justice he had to be represented by counsel. He subsequently requested the Registry, in writing, to assign Mr. Inglis as his defence counsel.

The Appeals Chamber dismissed all the grounds advanced by the Accused and upheld his sentence.

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Procedural history

On 1 May 1998 Kambanda pleaded guilty to the six counts contained in the Indictment against him, namely, genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity (murder and extermination). This plea was accepted by Trial Chamber I. On 4 September 1998, the Trial Chamber sentenced the Accused to life imprisonment.

On 7 September 1998, the Accused filed a notice of appeal against the sentence containing four grounds of appeal. Upon receipt of the certified record of appeal he filed a supplementary notice of appeal seeking to add one ground. Following a change of counsel, a second supplementary notice of appeal was filed, seeking to add three new grounds of appeal, which challenged the validity of his guilty plea. Thus, the Accused requested the Appeals Chamber not only to revise his sentence but also to quash the guilty verdict and order a new trial.

By Decision of 8 December 1999, the Appeals Chamber granted the Accused leave to add to his notice of appeal the four supplementary grounds filed, and ordered him to file one consolidated notice of appeal listing all eight grounds together. This was duly filed on 8 February 2000 and included a request for leave to add a further sub-ground of appeal. This request was granted by decision of 18 May 2000. 

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Legally relevant facts

Under ground 1, the Accused  submitted that the Trial Chamber had erred by not taking into consideration the denial of his right to legal assistance of his own choosing (para. 12).

Under ground 2, he contented that his detention in Tanzania outside the Tribunal Detention Unit had been unlawful (para. 36), and under ground 3, he challenged the validity of the guilty plea (para. 49).

As an “alternative”, the Accused had submitted that if the Appeals Chamber denied his primary request to quash the guilty verdict and order a new trial, it should set aside and revise the entire sentence (grounds 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) (para. 96).

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Core legal questions

  • Whether the guilty plea entered by the Accused was voluntary, informed and unequivocal.
  • Whether there was a sufficient factual basis supporting the guilty plea.
  • Whether the Trial Chamber had erred in failing to impose a separate sentence for each count in the Indictment.
  • Whether the Trial Chamber had properly taken into account certain mitigating factors.
  • What the effect on the sentence would be, in case any of the grounds of appeal was accepted.

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Specific legal rules and provisions

Articles 2, 3, 9(3), 20, 22 and 23(1),(2) of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Rules 62, 101(B)(ii),(iii),(C),108bis, 111 and 114 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

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Court's holding and analysis

With regard to ground 1, the Appeals Chamber held that the right to free legal assistance by counsel does not confer the right to choose one’s counsel and that incompetence on the part of counsel for the Accused had not been substantiated (paras. 33-34).

The Appeals Chamber found that the Accused had failed to establish any reason for which he should exceptionally be allowed to raise the question of the legality of his detention for the first time on appeal. Therefore, it dismissed his second ground of appeal (para. 48). The Chamber also rejected the Accused’s claim that his guilty plea was involuntary, uninformed and not unequivocal, as well as that there had not been sufficient evidence to indicate that he was guilty (paras. 64, 78, 87, 94-95).

The Appeals Chamber also dismissed the grounds challenging the sentence imposed on the Accused. As a result, the Chamber upheld the sentence of life imprisonment (paras. 113, 126).

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials