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Rwandan ex-minister sentenced

Arusha - The UN court for Rwanda on Thursday handed a life sentence to a former youth minister found guilty of being among the top planners of the 1994 genocide.

Callixte Nzabonimana was found guilty of genocide, plotting to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide and extermination.

Callixte Mbarushimana is seen at the opening of the confirmation of charges hearings at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Mbarushimana, described as a senior leader of Rwanda rebel group FDLR, has been handed a life sentence. Credit: REUTERS

“For these crimes, and taking into account all the relevant circumstances, the chamber sentences you to life in prison,” presiding judge Solomy Balungi Bossa told Nzabonimana.

A key element in the former minister's conviction was his participation, alongside other members of the government, in a meeting held on April 18, 1994 at Murambi in Gitarama province, in the centre of the country.

According to the verdict, this meeting cemented “an agreement” between Nzabonimana and other ministers “to encourage the killing of Tutsis ... with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the Tutsi population as such in Gitarama prefecture.”

The three judges found that Nzabonimana had incited people to exterminate Tutsi at public appearances in different parts of the province in April, May and June 1994.

The former minister remained impassive as the sentence was read out.

His lead defence counsel, Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse, questioned as he left the courtroom, said he had decided to appeal.

“We will definitely appeal. The appeal hearing starts now,” the lawyer said. - Sapa-AFP

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