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Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 18:49 UK

Rwandan guilty of 1994 atrocities

A survivor prays at a mass grave (Archive picture)
Tensions remain between genocide survivors and perpetrators

Canada has completed its first war-crimes trial - convicting a Rwandan man of atrocities carried out during Rwanda's genocidal conflict in 1994.

The trial of Desire Munyaneza, 42, heard from 66 witnesses over two years.

He was accused of leading a militia who raped and killed dozens of Tutsis, and orchestrating a massacre of 300 to 400 Tutsis in a church.

Munyaneza, who faces a life sentence, is the first person to be convicted under Canada's 2000 War Crimes Act.

The law claims "universal jurisdiction" over the world's most serious crimes.

Munyaneza was found guilty of seven charges - including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Appeal expected

The BBC's Lee Carter in Toronto says the judge's decision-making was complicated by the genocide charge.

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It meant that he needed not only to conclude that Munyaneza had committed crimes of murder or rape, but that he did so with the intention that the Tutsis should be wiped out as a people, our correspondent says.

Munyaneza arrived in Canada in the 1990s and tried to claim asylum - but the authorities rejected his claims.

He was arrested in 2005 in a Toronto suburb after allegations emerged that he had been a militia leader during Rwanda's civil conflict.

Emotional testimony was heard during the two-year trial from genocide survivors, who claimed they had seen Munyaneza lead attacks on Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The trial heard that Munyaneza, a Hutu, set up and manned roadblocks in Butare, southern Rwanda, to select victims based on their ethnicity or allegiances.

He and his militia then carried out a series of rapes and murders.

Munyaneza is expected to appeal against his conviction and take the case to Canada's Supreme Court.



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