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Rwanda genocide: ICTR jails Augustin Ngirabatware

By The Citizen
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A UN war crimes court has sentenced a key organiser of the 1994 Rwandan genocide to 35 years in prison.

The sentence was imposed on Augustin Ngirabatware, a former government minister in Rwanda.

He is the last person to be tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which will now only hear appeals.

About 800,000 people – ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus – were killed in 100 days in Rwanda in 1994.

The ICTR convicted Ngirabatware of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and rape as a crime against humanity, the AFP news agency reports.

“For these crimes the court sentences you to 35 years in prison,” Judge William Hussein Sekule told Ngirabatware.

He was planning minister in the militant Hutu-led government at the time of the genocide.

The court said he had distributed weapons at checkpoints where Hutu militias would kill ethnic Tutsis.

Ngirabatware was arrested in Germany in September 2007 and was transferred more than a year later to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania.

He is the son-in-law of Felicien Kabuga, Rwanda’s most wanted man, according to court documents.

Mr Kabuga, who has a $5m (£3m) bounty on his head from the US, is one of nine people indicted by the ICTR who remain at large.

AFP reports if any of the three most wanted are captured, they will be tried by a specially constructed international legal structure, while the files of six others have been sent to Rwanda.

The ICTR says on its website that it has completed 71 cases since it was set up under a UN Security Council resolution in November 1994 to try the ringleaders of the genocide.

Ten accused were acquitted while 32 convicts are serving sentences, it says.

It is due to close in 2014 after it has finalised 16 appeal cases.

Rwanda’s government, which forced the genocidal regime from power, has long criticised the ICTR, accusing it of being too slow and expensive.

But ICTR spokesman Roland Amoussouga defended its record, saying that genocide trials at international tribunals are extremely complicated affairs.

He told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that witnesses were scattered around the world and the court used three languages.

“The ICTR has shown to the whole world that impunity will no longer be tolerated,” he said.