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Rwandan Military Commander Guilty Of Genocide

Former Rwandan Military Commander Found Guilty Of Genocide By UN Tribunal

New York, Sep 12 2006 2:00PM

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for Rwanda today sentenced a former military commander to 25 years’ jail after finding him guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in a series of massacres in 1994 that included the killing of orphans who had sought shelter at a school.

Tharcisse Muvunyi, 53, was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) after the three-member panel of judges found the former lieutenant-colonel had done nothing to prevent massacres carried out by soldiers under his command, nor punish them afterwards.

Judges Asoka de Silva of Sri Lanka (presiding), Flavia Lattanzi of Italy and Florence Rita Arrey of Cameroon also found Mr. Muvunyi not guilty of a charge of crimes against humanity (rape) and dismissed the alternative charge of complicity in genocide.

In sentencing Mr. Muvunyi, the judges said they considered several aggravating factors, including the separation and subsequent massacre of orphan children at the school by soldiers under his command.

They further noted that he chastised a local mayor for hiding a Tutsi man who was later produced and killed by an armed Hutu mob at his instructions.

Mr. Muvunyi also attended a public meeting of mostly Hutus in which he called for the killing of Tutsis, referred to them as snakes, and urged the destruction of Tutsi property.

In mitigation, the judges noted that Mr. Muvunyi was considered to have had a good character until 1994, had spent much of his life working for his country, and was a husband and father of three children.

The ICTR was established by the Security Council to try individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when more than 800,000 people were massacred, mostly by machete, for being ethnic Tutsis or Hutu moderates.

In a separate ruling today, the Tribunal acquitted a former mayor in eastern Rwanda of three charges of complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity after finding significant credibility issues in witness testimony.

Jean Mpambara, the ex-mayor of Rukara commune in Kibungo prefecture, was not alleged to have killed anyone himself, but to have instigated and supported attacks by other people that led to the deaths of 2,500 people.

Judges Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji (presiding), Sergei Alekseevich Egorov of Russia and Ms. Lattanzi ruled that the testimony of all but one witness was either uncorroborated or lacked credibility.

The judges also heard from several defence witnesses, including some Tutsis, that Mr. Mpambara had publicly opposed the violence and did all he could with limited resources to deter the attacks. Evidence was also brought that Mr. Mpambara issued identity cards marked Hutu to fleeing Tutsis so they could pass through roadblocks safely.

Ends

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