This case summary is part of a collection of summaries describing the cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). See the Online Resource Hub pages on the ICTR and International Criminal Law, and table of ICTR case summaries for additional information.


Karemera et al. (ICTR-98-44)

Trial Judgment: 2 February 2012; Appeal Judgment: 29 September 2014

This case is known for the Trial Chamber’s controversial decision to take judicial notice of the fact that there existed a genocide in Rwanda in 1994, meaning that the prosecution did not need to introduce evidence to show that a genocide existed, which is an element of the crime of genocide. Édouard Karemera, the First Vice-President of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) political party and Minister of the Interior in the Rwandan Interim Government, Matthieu Ngirumpatse, the President of the MRND, and Joseph Nzirorera, the National Secretary of the MRND, stood trial for their role in an alleged joint criminal enterprise whereby they used their control of the MRND to promote and support widespread attacks on Tutsis across Rwanda. The prosecution charged the defendants with direct and superior responsibility for genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to genocide, crimes against humanity for acts of rape and extermination, and war crimes for acts of violence to life. In 2010, during the trial, Nzirorera died in detention, at which point he was dropped from the proceedings.

In 2012, an ICTR Trial Chamber convicted Karemera and Ngirumpatse of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide, rape and extermination as crimes against humanity, and violence to life as a war crime. The Trial Chamber found: that Karemera and Ngirumpatse were responsible for killings in Kigali, in Murambi in Gikongoro Prefecture, in Butare Prefecture, in Bisesero in Kibuye Prefecture, as well as killings that resulted from the creation of the civil defense system; that Karemera and Ngirumpatse, through participation in a joint criminal enterprise, were responsible for rapes and sexual assaults perpetrated throughout Rwanda; and that Karemera and Ngirumpatse participated in meetings condoning and inciting violence against Tutsis. In 2014, the ICTR Appeals Chamber reversed certain Trial Chamber findings, but those findings did not result in a reversal of any of either Karemera or Ngirumpatse’s convictions. The Appeals Chamber affirmed Karemera’s and Ngirumpatse’s life sentences.