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East Africa correspondent Cathy Jenkins
"Witnesses testified that Rutaganda ordered massacres"
 real 28k

Monday, 6 December, 1999, 18:34 GMT
Life sentence for Rwanda genocide leader
Skulls Up to 800,000 were slaughtered in 1994


The international war crimes tribunal in Tanzania has convicted a former leader of the Interahamwe militia that led the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, sentencing him to life imprisonment.

Former businessman and vice-president of the Interahamwe militia, Georges Rutaganda, 41, was found guilty on one count of genocide, one count of crimes against humanity and one count of murder by the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania.

"The accused deliberately participated in the crimes and has not shown the slightest remorse," said Judge Laity Kama, announcing the verdict.


Without Georges Rutaganda, the Rwandan genocide would not have functioned the way it did
Prosecutor James Stewart
Several witnesses told the court that Rutaganda had ordered massacres in the capital Kigali and the commune of Masango in central Rwanda.

One witness told how Rutaganda killed one man with a machete then turned to spectators and said: "This is how we should deal with Tutsis."

But his lawyers told the court that he had tried to save lives and had no influence over the roadblocks where victims were stopped and singled out for immediate execution.

Rutaganda, who pleaded not guilty to all the charges, was cleared on five other counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Tribunal convictions
Former PM Jean Kambanda - life
Former Taba mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu - life
Former Kibuye governor Clement Kayishema - life
Businessman Obed Ruzindana - 25 years
Businessman Omar Serushago - 15 years
Rutaganda is the sixth Rwandan to be convicted of genocide by the Tanzania-based tribunal and the fourth to be sentenced to life in prison - the maximum sentence allowed under court rules.

His conviction comes amid controversy over a decision last month to release another suspect, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, on procedural grounds - a decision that prompted Rwanda to suspend its cooperation with the tribunal.

The ruling by the ICTR's appeal chamber in The Hague is under review and Mr Barayagwiza remains in custody pending the outcome.

The Interahamwe militia were formed in late 1990 as a youth wing of an extremist Rwandan Hutu political party. They received military training and, during the 1994 genocide, tried to wipe out the minority Tutsi population using clubs and machetes.

They also incited ordinary Hutus to do the same.

An estimated 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, were killed by the militia working with the army and security forces.

The names and personal histories of the victims of the genocide are now being recorded in a book launched by a human rights group in Rwanda.

The Organisation for Survivors of the Genocide in Rwanda has started the project in Kibuye province and hopes to extend it throughout the country.

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See also:
18 Mar 99 |  Africa
Eyewitness: Rwanda's survivors
31 Mar 99 |  Africa
Rwanda slaughter 'could have been prevented'

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