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Germany prosecutors charge former Rwanda mayor with genocide

German federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that they have charged a former Rwandan mayor with genocide relating to his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. According to prosecutors, Onesphore Rwabukombe [Trial Watch profile] allegedly coordinated three massacres [AFP report] in which more than 3,700 Tutsis, who had sought refuge in a church, were killed. Rwabukombe, who was a mayor in northern Rwanda at the time of the killings, is also accused of ordering a local official to turn away Tutsi refugees [AP report] seeking shelter in his home, resulting in at least one of the refugees being killed. German authorities had previously arrested Rwabukombe, but had to release him after they failed to obtain sufficient evidence to charge him with any crimes. Rwabukombe was arrested last month following further investigation which resulted in new evidence. He has been charged with genocide and murder, as well as inciting genocide and murder.

In addition to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive], several countries have utilized their legal systems to try suspects accused of crimes related to the Rwandan genocide. In June, a Finnish court convicted former Rwandan pastor [JURIST report] Francois Bazaramba on charges of genocide and murder and sentenced him to life in prison. Canadian prosecutors announced in November that a second suspect had been charged [JURIST report] under Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act [text, PDF]. The first man charged under the act was Desire Munyaneza. In October, he was sentenced to life imprisonment [JURIST report] for war crimes committed during the Rwandan genocide. Munyaneza was convicted [JURIST report] in May 2009 of seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes under the act.

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