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UN Tribunal Condemns Former Rwandan Councillor


New York, Apr 28 2005 3:00PM

A former councilman in Rwanda was sentenced to life in prison today by a United Nations war crimes court after a yearlong trial on charges that included genocide against people who had taken refuge in churches and committing and abetting rape during his country’s 1994 massacres.

The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) found Mikaeli Muhimana, councillor for the Gyshita sector in the Kibuye area, guilty of mobilizing people and distributing guns and grenades to them on 14 and 15 April 1994. In June 1994 he lured Tutsis out of hiding with false promises of medication and then ordered armed assailants to kill more than 2,000 of them, it said.

The former businessman personally attacked and killed civilians in Mubuga and Mugonero churches and on the hills of Bisesero, the ICTR charged.

The councillor also disembowelled a pregnant woman “so that he could see what the foetus looks like in its mother’s womb,” the court said.

He raped a couple dozen women, about nine of them in the Mugonero Hospital and several in his home, and handed over two Tutsi women to two members of the Hutu Interahamwe militia to rape. “He also raped a girl whom he believed to be Tutsi, and apologized to her when he later found out that she was Hutu,” the ICTR said.

The trial chamber found that his active participation in beheading Assiel Kabanda, a prominent Tutsi, and the public display of his severed head was one of the aggravating factors in deciding to give him the maximum sentence. Mr. Muhimana had fled Rwanda but was arrested in Tanzania in November 1999. The genocide against some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda took place between April and June 1994, at a time when the Tutsis were a group protected by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

2005-04-28 00:00:00.000

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