May 17, 2011 / 10:00 AM / in 7 years

Former Rwandan military chiefs guilty of genocide

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Tuesday found two former military chiefs guilty of genocide in the 1994 slaughter of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, the court said.

The ICTR also found former army chief Augustin Bizimungu and former military police leader Augustin Ndindiliyimana guilty of crimes against humanity.

The court in Arusha, northern Tanzania, sentenced Bizimungu to 30 years in jail.

“It is a welcome decision by the ICTR. In its own circumstances, that is a big sentence, even if many people would think he deserved the highest,” Martin Ngoga, Rwanda’s chief prosecutor, told Reuters.

Ethnic Hutu militias butchered up to 800,000 people between April and June 1994 in a genocide sparked by the death of former President Juvenal Habyarimana who was killed when his plane was shot down close to the capital Kigali on April 6, 1994.

The court, however, ordered the release of Ndindiliyimana, given his command over the police was limited and because he had consistently supported reconciliation before 1994 and opposed the massacres.

Two other senior army officers were also found guilty of crimes against humanity, in part for their role in an attack that led to the death of up to eight Belgian U.N. peacekeepers.

All four were found not guilty of conspiracy to commit genocide after the court found the prosecution’s allegations were based entirely on circumstantial evidence.

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