The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), today convicted two men of genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They are two of the most senior officials to be tried and convicted at this court, established in nearby Arusha, Tanzania.
Two other men were sentenced to 20 years for crimes against humanity Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye was the commander of a reconnaissance battalion and Captain Innocent Sagahutu was his second-in-command.
Augustin Bizimungu, the former army chief and Augustin Ndindiliyimana were convicted at the end of a trial which began in March 2002.
Mr. Bizimungu has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. AFP reports that the court ruled he had complete control over the men under his command.
The prosecution said that the 59-year-old Hutu trained his militia and Interhamwe troops to kill and prepared lists of those he wanted killed, referring to the Tutsi population as ‘cockroaches’. They also said he promised weapons to kill them and fuel with which to burn down their homes.
Mr. Bizimungu was arrested in 2002 in Angola and his trial began in Tanzania soon after wards.
The Daily Telegraph adds that it took prosecution two and a half hours to read out the charges against him. These charges included turning a blind eye to reports of rape and sexual abuse against Tutsi women and girls, as well as ignoring Tutsi pleas for mercy moments before their execution.
Mr. Bizimungu pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Mr. Ndindiliyimana was a paramilitary police chief. He was arrested in Belgium in 2000 and spent 11 years in jail. Because of this prison time, he was released from sentence. The court concluded that he had “limited control” over his troops.
The court also ruled that he was against the killings and supported reconciliation talks.
Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, told reporters that these convictions were “welcome”. He added that “in its own circumstances, that is a big sentence, even if many people would think he [Bizimungu] deserved the highest.”