Dutch court sentences Rwandan for war crimes

Hutu man residing in the Netherlands receives life sentence for his role in 1994 genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

    Mourners stand behind the caskets of victims of the 1994 genocide at Kigali Memorial Centre, in 2009 [EPA]

    A Dutch court has sentenced a Hutu man to life imprisonment on war crimes committed during Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

    "The appeals court... sentences the suspect to life in prison," Raoul Dekkers, head of the appeals court, said on Thursday during a public session in The Hague.

    "You showed no compassion for the Tutsis ... stuck to your opinion that the victims deserved their fate," the judge said, while testimony was being heard during the appeal.

    Joseph Mpambara, a 43-year-old Rwandan citizen living in the Netherlands, was found guilty of torture causing the deaths of two Tutsi mothers and their four children on April 13, 1994, upholding a previous lower court conviction.

    The court convicted him of having carried out an attack on a Protestant church where Tutsis had fled and for the kidnapping of three children from the same family.

    Mpambara was also found guilty of detaining a German-Rwandan couple and their baby on April 27, 1994, for several hours.

    'Convincing judgement'

    The Rwandan citizen had been convicted in March 2009 of torture and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, but was acquitted by the lower court on allegations of war crimes.

    Prosecutors then appealed that ruling in a trial that took place under a law allowing the prosecution of suspected war criminals living in the Netherlands.

    "It was a very convincing judgment," Liesbeth Zegveld, one of the complainant's lawyers, told the AFP news agency afterwards.

    "The crimes are very serious. It cannot be compared to anything we know in The Netherlands. A strong signal is being sent today across our borders," she said.

    Mpambara was tried in The Netherlands as part of an agreement between several European countries and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), under which they try genocide suspects in their national courts.

    The son of a wealthy family, Mpambara has resided in The Netherlands since 1998, although his request for asylum was refused.

    The Dutch authorities originally detained him in 2006.

    He was the first Rwandan to be condemned in The Netherlands for crimes during the genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died, according to UN estimates.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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