KIGALI (Reuters) – A Rwandan court on Thursday handed a life sentence to a former politician found guilty of orchestrating the killing of tens of thousands of people during the 1994 genocide, a court spokesman said.
FILE PHOTO: Participants arrive at a night vigil during a commemoration ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, at the Amahoro stadium in Kigali, Rwanda April 7, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo
Ladislas Ntaganzwa, head of the commune of Nyakizu in southern Rwanda, was indicted in 1996 by the Arusha, Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on charges of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, murder and rape.
The tribunal closed five years ago and was replaced by a successor body, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, with offices in Arusha and the Hague, Netherlands.
About 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus were killed during the genocide.
The tribunal’s indictment accused Ntaganzwa of plotting to exterminate Rwanda’s Tutsi population and personally ordering the massacre of more than 200,000 Tutsi civilians in one parish in April 1994. It passed the case to a Rwandan government court.
“Ladislas Ntaganzwa was today sentenced to life imprisonment over genocide crimes committed during the genocide against Tutsi in 1994,” the court spokesman, Harrison Mutabazi, said.
Alexis Musonera, Ntaganzwa’s lawyer, said he planned to appeal the ruling.
“We plan to appeal because evidence in the hearing was based on witnesses’ testimony but that was not enough as some witnesses were contradicting themselves. We are not happy about this lengthy life jail term,” Musonera told Reuters.
The judgement was announced by video conference while Musonera used Skype to follow it with Ntaganzwa at Mpanga prison in the southern province.
Ntaganzwa was arrested in December 2015 in Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda took him into custody in March 2016.
The United States had offered up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.
Félicien Kabuga, the top-most fugitive from the genocide, was arrested in France last week.
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals said it concluded that former defence minister Augustin Bizimana, another key suspect, had died.
Reporting by George Obulutsa; editing by Philippa Fletcher