Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rwanda: UN genocide tribunal reduces jail term for convicted local official

UN - The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up after the Rwandan genocide today reduced the jail sentence of a former local official who was convicted last year of his role in a notorious massacre in which thousands of ethnic Tutsi civilians died.

Dominique Ntawukulilyayo, a former sub-prefect in Rwanda’s southern prefecture of Butare, will now serve 20 years in prison instead of 25 years after a ruling from the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

The appeals chamber found that the trial chamber had erred when it convicted Mr. Ntawukulilyayo of ordering genocide for the killings at Kabuye hill on 23 April 1994, just weeks after the genocide began.

But the five-member appeal panel upheld Mr. Ntawukulilyayo’s conviction for aiding and abetting genocide over the same incident.

During his trial, the court heard how Mr. Ntawukulilyayo instructed many Tutsi families who had gathered at Gisagara market over four days to move to nearby Kabuye hill, promising them they would be protected and fed.

But he later transported soldiers to the hill, and the soldiers joined with other assailants to attack the Tutsis, killing thousands.

Meanwhile, an appeal hearing also began today at the ICTR – which is based in Arusha, Tanzania – in the case of Gaspard Kanyarukiga, a businessman who was convicted of genocide and other war crimes for his role in the destruction of the Nyange church on 16 April 1994, which led to the killing of about 2,000 Tutsi civilians.

Mr. Kanyarukiga was sentenced to 30 years in jail and both he and prosecutors have appealed against decisions about convictions and sentencing.