Rwandan woman jailed for genocide

Former minister of women's affairs becomes first female to be convicted of genocide by UN court for Rwanda.

    Nyiramusuhuko was found guilty along with her son and four other former officials [EPA]

    Judges at the UN court for Rwanda have sentenced a former Rwandan minister for women's affair, to life in prison for genocide and incitement to rape.

    The ruling by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) means that Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 65, is the first women to be ever convicted of genocide.

    She was found guilty on seven of the 11 genocide charges she faced for atrocities committed in Rwanda's southern Butare region in 1994.
     
    "For these crimes, and considering all relevant circumstances, the chamber sentences you, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, to life imprisonment," said William Hussein Sekule, the presiding judge, on Friday.

    "Pauline Nyiramasuhuko conspired with other members of the interim government to commit genocide in Butare.

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    "She ordered rape at the Butare prefecture office. She had superior responsibility on the Interahamwe [militia which she ordered] to commit the rapes at the Butare prefecture."

    Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, the former minister's son, is one of five co-accused, who was also sentenced to life for crimes including genocide, extermination and rape as a crime against humanity.

    The other co-accused, all former senior officials in the Butare area, were sentenced to terms ranging from 25 years to life at the court in Tanzania.

    Only female

    Nyiramasuhuko was born into a modest family in southern Rwanda. At the age of 40 she enrolled at university, gaining a law degree four years later.

    In April 1992 she was appointed minister for women's affairs, a position she continued to hold in 1994 when approximately 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsi, were killed by majority Hutus.

    After the victory of the Rwandan Patriotic Front she fled into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

    She was arrested in Kenya in July 1997 and transferred to the ICTR.

    The only female detainee at the UN court, Nyiramasuhuko first appeared at the tribunal in 2001, in what has been the longest-running trial at the ICTR.

    The verdict comes 16 years after the first of the co-accused was arrested.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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