Rwandan politicians jailed over genocide

Two men, who headed MRND party when up to 800,000 were massacred by Hutu extremists in Rwanda, sentenced for life.

    Hutu extremists targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus in attacks that left up to 800,000 people dead [EPA]

    The United Nations war crimes tribunal for Rwanda has found two former ruling party officials guilty of genocide for their leading role in the 1994 massacre of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, and sentenced them to life in prison.
       
    Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, who were president and vice-president of the ruling MRND party at the time of the genocide, had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    "The chamber unanimously condemns Ngirumpatse to life in jail," said presiding Judge Dennis Byron, before pronouncing the same sentence for Karemera.

    Last week the tribunal reduced sentences for two former Rwandan military officials who were convicted of genocide.

    Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, who was a director in the defence ministry, had his life sentence reduced to 35 years while Anatole Nsengiyumva's life sentence was reduced to 15 years - before he was released for the time served.

    The tribunal, based in neighbouring Tanzania's town of Arusha, was set up by the UN in 1995 to prosecute people responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda.

    It deals with crimes committed between January 1 1994 and December 31 1994, but the slaughter itself began on Apirl 7 1994.

    Rwanda set up its own courts - known as gacaca, Kinyarwanda for grass - where  many genocide suspects have been tried, but the courts have been criticised by international rights groups for failing to meet international standards.

    The genocide, which lasted 100 days, began after a plane carrying Juvenal Habyarimana, the Rwandan president at the time, was shot down as it approached Kanombe airport in the capital Kigali.

    Habyarimana and the president of neighbouring Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, who was travelling on the same aircraft, were both killed along with the French pilots.

    A French judge blamed the attack on the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which was fighting the government, but the RPF, which now governs Rwanda, denied the charge.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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