Judges at the United Nations tribunal trying the people who caused the deaths of Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the genocide of 1994 today sentenced a councillor to six years in prison for having failed to prevent an attack on a church full of Tutsi asylum-seekers among whom thousands died and many were injured.
By an agreement with Prosecutor Hassan Jallow of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Vincent Rutaganira, the 1985-1994 councillor for Gishyita commune, one of the nine communes of Kibuye prefecture, pleaded guilty last December to one count charging him with extermination as an accomplice by omission to a crime against humanity.
The Tribunal's trial chamber said Mr. Rutaganira had known about the planned massacre, was a channel between the population and the political structure and held moral authority over the population, yet did not use his authority to prevent the attacks on the Tutsis or protect and assist them as they sheltered in Mubuga Church.
The three-judge chamber said it took into account such mitigating circumstances as Mr. Rutaganira having turned himself to Tanzanian authorities, his guilty plea and expression of remorse, his ill-health at age 60 and his good behaviour in detention. He also helped some victims in Mubuga, had no previous criminal record, did not actively take part in the killings and showed restraint.
It also said he was entitled to credit for his detention since March 2002 and any further time he might spend in custody if he decided to appeal.