UN tribunal convicts army colonel for Rwandan genocide

Nairobi, Dec 18 (DPA) A UN tribunal Thursday sentenced former Rwandan Army colonel Theoneste Bagosora to life in prison for helping to organise the 1994 genocide in the east African country.

Bagosora, who was the Director of Cabinet in the defence ministry at the time of the genocide, faced 12 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) – based in Arusha, Tanzania – had accused Bagosora, 67, of helping to plan and carry out the genocide and of organising and arming the notorious Interahamwe Hutu militia.

More than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by militia in the space of only a few months following the assassination of Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana.

The ICTR indictment accused Bagosora and three other senior military officers of taking over after the death of Habyarimana and conspiring “to exterminate the civilian Tutsi population and eliminate members of the opposition”.

The charges also stated that Bagosora openly announced that he was returning to Rwanda to “prepare the apocalypse” after quitting talks in Tanzania prior to the genocide.

The ICTR has convicted 29 people since 1997, the most recent being famous Rwandan singer Simon Bikindi.

Bikindi received 15 years for making a speech in June 1994 in which he urged Hutus to kill the Tutsi minority.