William and Mary Law School

Oral Judgement Time

This past week and weekend I stayed in Arusha trying to complete the final touches on the oral and written judgment for the Munyakazi case. Our group has been working hard trying to make sure all the footnotes are correct and the legal conclusions are logical and sound, so that the Appellate Court at The Hague will have no reason to overturn the judgment.

On Wednesday June 30 the oral judgment was delivered. The oral judgment is essentially a brief oral summary of the written judgment and gives the verdict and sentencing. Here's the press release that the UN put out about the oral judgment: http://liveunictr.altmansolutions.com/tabid/155/Default.aspx?id=1146.

This past Wednesday was very exciting, since it was my first time stepping foot in the ICTR courtroom. Anyone who is in the courtroom must wear a long robe and bib. The courtroom procedure was also very different from anything I've seen in the US tradition.  After putting on my robe I met up with the rest of the team and we entered the court where Judges Florence Rita Arrey (Presiding), Mparany Rajohnson and Aydin Sefa Akay delivered the oral judgment. Munyakazi was sentenced to 25 years for his acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Since our team had written the oral judgment we knew the verdict, but what we did not know how long his sentence would be. It was also my first time seeing the accused in person. When they delivered the final judgment by Munyakazi's reaction it seemed like he already knew the verdict. The Accused is very old and showed no reaction to the verdict and it appears unlikely he will outlive his twenty five year sentence.

Another interesting part of the courtroom is all the different translations that are occurring during the trial. Each person in the court room receives their own headset and radio which has different channels that broadcast the trial in different languages (English, French, Kinyarwanda). The entire viewing area was completely packed and the UN had to setup an overflow room to deal with all of the viewers.

Overall it was a great experience and after the judgment we had tea with the judges who thanked us for all our hard work. Now that the case is over I believe that I'll move on to a new case but I have not heard which one yet. This weekend I'll be staying around Arusha and celebrating the Fourth of July with a bunch of the other American interns. But next weekend I'll be heading to Zanzibar for a long weekend which should be very fun and very relaxing.

 

Until Next Time

 

Brook