DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - A U.N. court trying masterminds of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide on Monday gave a 30-year jail sentence to a former interior minister accused of tricking thousands of people to hide on a hill before they were killed.
Hutu militias butchered 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in the 100-day massacre that shocked Africa and the world.
The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said Callixte Kalimanzira, a close ally to the president and prime minister during the killing spree, was guilty of genocide and complicity to commit genocide.
“The Trial Chamber ... found Kalimanzira guilty of genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide,” the ICTR said in a statement.
Fifteen years after the massacres, there are still recriminations over the international community’s inability to prevent or stop the genocide, and over who exactly was to blame.
In its 2005 indictment, the ICTR accused Kalimanzira of encouraging thousands of Tutsi civilians to take refuge at Kabuye hill in Ndora commune with promises of food and protection, only for militias then to kill them in his presence.
He was also accused of seeking military and police reinforcements for the massacre.
“Kalimanzira went to Kabuye hill ... with soldiers and policemen, where thousands of Tutsi refugees were attacked and killed, resulting in human tragedy,” ICTR said.
“Most significantly, by encouraging Tutsi refugees to gather at Kabuye hill where he knew they would be killed in the thousands, he abused the public’s trust that he, like other officials, would protect them.”
The court also found him guilty of incitement to commit genocide, citing several occasions at two roadblocks and a stadium and a marketplace.
Kalimanzira, 56, surrendered to the ICTR in Arusha, north Tanzania, where he was arrested in 2005 and entered a not guilty plea. His sentencing raises the number of ICTR’s judgements delivered to 38. Six of these were acquittals.
The court said Kalimanzira would receive credit for time already served while in custody.
The court had until the end of last year to complete all trials, and until 2010 to hear all appeals before winding up. However cases have spilt over and the ICTR says it is working hard to finish hearing evidence in all trials by the end of 2009.