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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 15:43 GMT
Genocide convicts sent to Mali
Remains of genocide victims
At least 800,000 Rwandans died in the genocide
By David Lewis in Tanzania

The first six prisoners to have been convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda have arrived in Mali where they will be serving out their sentences.

Amongst the six former senior officials are Jean Kambanda, the former prime minister and head of the Rwandan Government and Jean-Paul Akayesu, former mayor of the Rwandan town of Taba.

All of the convicts lost their appeals and will serve their sentences in a specially modified jail in the Malian capital, Bamako.

The prisoners will complete their terms in the west African country and, while they will be held under Malian law, the International Criminal Tribunal will supervise the sentences.

New phase

According to Kingsley Moghalu, spokesman for the UN tribunal, the security situation and standards of jails in Rwanda meant that the convicted could not serve their sentences in the country where the crimes were committed.

skulls of victims
The slaughter in Rwanda shocked the world
However, he did not rule out the possibility of future convicts being sent back to Rwanda.

The tribunal has been criticised in the past for its lengthy and costly system of trying those accused of crimes against humanity in Rwanda.

However, Mr Moghalu told me that this latest move represented a new phase that will see those that took part in the 1994 genocide punished for their acts.

Deterrence

Mr Moghalu told me that he felt that this was a historic move in the creation of a culture of accountability amongst those in Africa that, up until now, had considered themselves untouchable.

Julienne Mukabutera, known as Sister Julienne Kisito
Sister Julienne Kisito is accused of aiding the genocide
Apart from increasing public attention and support for the trials, he feels that these convictions will act as strong deterrents in the future.

The tribunal in Arusha made history in 1998 when it made the first judgement by an international court for the crime of genocide and Mr Kabanda became the first head of government to be punished for genocide.

The process is indeed long and there are still some 20 accused at large but there is a sense that justice is at last, being done.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Joan Baxter in Mali
"There are five cells and six prisoners"
See also:

19 Oct 00 | Africa
Rwanda genocide appeal fails
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