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Rwanda genocide tribunal sentences former political leaders to life in prison

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] on Wednesday sentenced former Rwandan political party leaders, Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, to life in prison for their role in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The court was unanimous in condemning Ngirumpatse [BBC report], who was the chairman of Rwanda's then-ruling National Revolutionary Movement for Development (NRMD) party. In confirming the life sentence handed down to Karemera, the former deputy leader of Ngirumpatse's NRMD, the court found the two were in a "joint criminal enterprise" intent on exterminating Tutsis [AFP report] and bore "superior responsibility" for the NRMD's youth wing [Reuters report]—the Interahamwe—that conducted most of the crimes. The court also found the pair bore extended liability for the widespread sexual assaults and rapes of Tutsi women and girls.

The ICTR continues to try suspects for crimes occurring during the massacre in which approximately 800,000 people were killed. Last month the ICTR convicted former Rwandan mayor Gregoire Ndahimana [JURIST report] of genocide and crimes against humanity by virtue of his "command responsibility" and sentenced him to 15 years in prison in connection with the killings at Nyange parish between April 6 and April 20, 1994, In September, the court acquitted [JURIST report] two former Rwandan ministers, Casimir Bizimungu and Jerome Bicamumpaka, of genocide charges due to a lack of sufficient evidence. In June, the court convicted [JURIST report] former Rwandan army chief Augustin Bizimungu and three others. Bizimungu was sentenced to 30 years in prison while two others, Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Innocent Sagahutu, to 20 years in prison and Augustin Ndindiliyimana to time served since his arrest in 2000. Last December the ICTR sentenced [JURIST report] former Rwandan Armed Forces lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana to life imprisonment after convicting him on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The court found Hategekimana guilty of three counts of genocide stemming from his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, specifically in the massacre of civilian Tutsis in the Rwandan town of Butare.

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