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UN genocide tribunal upholds life imprisonment for ex-councilman in Rwanda

UN genocide tribunal upholds life imprisonment for ex-councilman in Rwanda

The United Nations tribunal set up to try the worst crimes committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide today upheld the life sentence in prison given to a former councilman convicted of genocide, rape and murder as crimes against humanity.

The five-member appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, confirmed the trial chamber’s decision in 2005 to convict and sentence Mikaeli Muhimana, who had been councillor for the Gishyita Sector in Kibuye Prefecture during the genocide.

Although the judges allowed two of Mr. Muhimana’s 16 grounds of appeal, reversing his convictions for the rape of two women and the murder of a pregnant woman, they said these errors did not invalidate either the convictions or the sentence, given his numerous other crimes.

At his trial Mr. Muhimana – also known as Mika – was found guilty of mobilizing people and distributing guns and grenades to them on 14 and 15 April 1994. In June 1994 he lured Tutsis out of hiding with false promises of medication and then ordered armed assailants to kill more than 2,000 of them. The former businessman also personally attacked and killed civilians at various locations inside Kibuye Prefecture, including inside several churches.

He raped numerous women, including nine inside a hospital and several in his home, and handed over two Tutsi women for two members of the notorious Interahamwe militia to rape.

An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were murdered between April and June 1994 across Rwanda, mostly by machete. The Security Council set up the ICTR in November that year to prosecute people responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.