A court in Rwanda sentenced the men to jail terms of up to 25 years for their role in the massacre at the Nyarubuye Roman Catholic Church, one of the single worst atrocities in the bitter civil war that engulfed the country.
Judge Moise Ruzezwa said those guilty of the church massacre had confessed in court that they played a role in the killing, which was why they had escaped the maximum penalty – the death sentence.
“They attacked people sheltering there and killed indiscriminately using spears, machetes, clubs,hand grenades
and automatic weapons,” said the judge.
Meanwhile the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, jailed two men for life and a third for 35 years for using “hate media” outlets to incite the killings of up to a million people.
Two of the men sentenced, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and Ferdinand Nahimana are the former executives of a radio station that has been accused of inciting violence and hatred.
The radio station, Radio Television Libre des Milles (RTLM) urged members of the ethnic Hutu majority to target Tutsis and “exterminate the cockroaches.” It broadcast names of people who should be killed and provided information on where they lived.
An estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed between April – June 1994. The massacre was triggered by the death of the former president Juvenal Habyarimana who was killed when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994.
However ethnic tensions between the Hutus and Tutsis had been simmering away for many years in the country.
The death of the president lead to the targeting of the opposition and the killings of 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus.