Rwandan guilty of killing Belgians

Former army commander ordered killings of 10 Belgian peacekeepers in 1994.

    Bernard Ntuyahaga repeatedly denied
    all the charges against him [EPA]

    The Belgians, who were part of a United Nations force, were escorting the prime minister to a radio station where she had been due to make a public call for national unity.

    Just hours earlier, Juvenal Habyarimana, the Rwandan president, had been killed when his plane was shot down by unknown assailants.

    The assassination sparked the Rwandan genocide in which some  800,000 people - mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus - were massacred.

    Beaten to death

    Prosecutors said the soldiers were beaten to death, shot or slain with machetes after being transferred to "Camp Kigali".
    Ntuyahaga's defence said he was a political scapegoat, who had only been passing the prime minister's residence by chance and had given the Belgians a ride at their request.

    "It's a very important day, a day we have been waiting for for the last 13 years"

    Christine Dupont, widow of murdered peacekeeper

    "Sooner or later the truth will triumph, I believe that. I remain patient and I keep faith, thank you," he told the court before the jury retired to consider its verdict.

    The 12 jurors will reconvene on Thursday to decide on the sentence.

    Christine Dupont, the widow of one of the murdered Belgians, said the families of the victims felt relieved that the trial was reaching its end.
    "It's a very important day, a day we have been waiting for the last 13 years," she said before the verdict was announced.
    Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda dropped genocide and war crimes charges against Ntuyahaga in 1999.

    He turned himself in to the Belgian authorities in 2004 and denied all charges against him but could now face life in prison.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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