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UN Court Overturns Rwandan's Genocide Conviction

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) -- A UN court's appeals chamber has acquitted a Rwandan leader who was sentenced to 20 years in prison over the 1994 genocide because of shortcomings in the evidence.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said late on November 16 that its appeals chamber had ordered the immediate release of Protais Zigiranyirazo, known by the nickname "Mr. Z."

Zigiranyirazo, a brother-in-law of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, was alleged to have been a member of Akazu, a small but powerful Hutu group believed to have plotted to exterminate the minority Tutsis.

"The trial judgment misstated the principles of law governing the distribution of burden of proof with regards to alibi and seriously erred in its handling of the evidence," said Judge Theodor Meron, who presides over the appeals chamber in Arusha, northern Tanzania.