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Bringing justice to victims of international crimes

Stanislas Mbanenande

Indicted on 5 November 2012; Trial strated on 16 November 2012; First tried case of genocide in Sweden; Sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide on 20 June 2013; Conviction upheld on appeal on 19 June 2014.

Mbanenande was indicted by the Stockholm District court on 5 November 2012 on the counts of genocide and jus gentium including the crimes of murder, attempted murder and abduction. Mbanenande pleaded not guilty. 

The trial started on 16 November 2012 and the Swedish Government, upon the Prosecutor’s request, decided to hold the trial in Sweden, since the accused was a Swedish citizen. However, out of the 80 days of trial, some of them were held in Rwanda. By the end of November 2012, the Bench, the Prosecution, the Defense and the victims’ representation travelled to the areas around Kibuye and from 28 November and onwards, questioning of victims and witnesses will be held in the Supreme Court’s premises in Kigali. The Prosecution called over 40 witnesses, 19 out of those are survivors of the alleged murder attempts committed by Mbanenande.

This was the first time that a Swedish court tried the crime of genocide and the first case in relation to Rwanda. The Stockholm District Court has, nevertheless, tried several cases of war crime committed during the Balkan Wars during the 90s.

Mbanenande’s defense lawyer, Tomas Nilsson argued that it is difficult to handle the evidence in the case as they deal with incidents that occurred 18 years ago. 

The case is controversial as Mbanenande has already been sentenced by a Gacaca court and it is against international principles to try someone for the same crime twice. However, Swedish law does not recognise gacacas and it is therefore argued by the Court that it can try the accused in Sweden. The Defense, nevertheless, pointed out that even though the Swedish Court does not recognise the Gacaca sentence, several of the testimonies overlap. 

On 20 June 2013, the Swedish court delivered its judgement and sentenced Mbanenande to life imprisonment.

According to the Court Mbanenande had a leading role at a lower level and was directly involved in killings, attempted killings and the kidnapping of civilians in Kibuye between 6 April and 18 July 1994. Mbanenande was also found guilty of attempted murder at several occasions for firing with an automatic weapon at a group of people. In relation to some of the charges surrounding the massacres in a neighbourhood in Kibuye, the Court held that the Prosecutor had not presented enough evidence for a conviction.

According to the Court, it has been proven that Mbanenande has committed these attacks with the intention to deliberately and systematically destroy, in whole or in part, the ethnic group Tutsi and thus he was held guilty of genocide. This is the first time that anyone has been convicted for the crime of genocide in a Swedish court. Because of the acts committed and their connection to the armed conflict in Rwanda in 1994, several violations of international humanitarian law were committed and Mbanenande was found guilty of violating several rules and principles of international customary law.

Although claims were made to the Swedish court, the Court did not award any damages to the victims as it considered that Rwandan law should be applied in relation to compensation.

After denying the charges, Mbanenande appealed his conviction, asserting that the allegations against him were politically motivated, and that the investigation was fabricated.

On 19 June 2014, the Appeal Court rendered its decision, upholding District Court’s verdict.

The Court asserted that the conviction was based on a number of reliable testimonies of victims and witnesses, and there are no reasons to change the decision.

The defendant’s lawyer stated that there is a possibility that Mbanenande would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Fact sheet

Rwanda Sweden 2017 2017  - 2017 2017  - 2017



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