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Former Rwandan mayor receives 11-year jail term from UN tribunal

Former Rwandan mayor receives 11-year jail term from UN tribunal

The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up after the Rwandan genocide today sentenced a former mayor to 11 years in jail for his role in the mass killings that engulfed the small African nation in 1994.

Juvénal Rugambarara, who was mayor of Bicumbi commune in Kigali-Rural Prefecture in Rwanda from September 1993 to late April 1994, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of extermination as a crime against humanity after prosecutors agreed to withdraw eight other charges.

The amended indictment stated that he had failed as mayor to investigate the killings committed in Bicumbi commune during his term in office and had also failed to apprehend and punish the perpetrators of those crimes.

Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered, mostly by machete or club, across Rwanda in less than 100 days starting in early April 1994. Later that year the Security Council established the ICTR to deal with the worst cases.

Announcing the sentencing today, a three-judge panel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said they had taken into account both aggravating and mitigating factors before reaching their decision.

Judges Asoka da Silva (presiding), Taghrid Hikmet and Seon Ki noted the magnitude of the deaths of Tutsi civilians in Bicumbi, but they also took into account Mr. Rugambarara’s public expression of regret and testimony from five witnesses that he had also helped some Tutsi refugees.