February 27, 2015 / 3:38 PM / in 5 years

Life sentence for Rwanda's genocide-era justice minister upheld

Preserved skulls are spread out on a metal shelf in a Catholic church in Nyamata April 9, 2014. . REUTERS/Noor Khamis

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Rwanda’s high court on Friday upheld the life sentence of the s genocide-era justice minister, who was convicted six years ago for her role in the 1994 slaughter that killed 800,000 people.

Agnes Ntamabyariro is the only senior official in the former government to have been brought to justice in Rwanda. Others were tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in the Tanzanian city of Arusha and elsewhere.

Ntamabyariro was found guilty in particular for her role in the murder of Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, the head of Butare prefecture in southern Rwanda, who was a Tutsi.

Most of those killed in the genocide were minority Tutsis or moderates from the Hutu majority.

“She is guilty of being an accomplice to carry out the genocide,” Judge Muhima Benoit said.

    Ntamabyariro, who pleaded guilty, was not present in court for the ruling, but her lawyer said he was considering an appeal the severity of the sentence.

    “She still has the right to go the supreme court to appeal and I am ready to help her win this judicial fight,” lawyer Gatera Gashabana told Reuters.

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