A former Rwandan local government official convicted and jailed by the United Nations genocide tribunal for failing to prevent the massacre of Tutsis seeking refuge in a church has been released from prison after completing his sentence.
Vincent Rutaganira, who had been sentenced in March 2005 to six years’ jail, was released yesterday from the UN detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania, where the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is based. Mr. Rutaganira had been in custody since he was arrested in March 2002.
A councillor from 1985 to 1994 in the Mubuga sector of Kibuye prefecture in western Rwanda, Mr. Rutaganira had pleaded guilty to one count of extermination as an accomplice by omission to a crime against humanity.
In sentencing the councillor, the ICTR judges said that he had known about the planned massacre in which thousands of Tutsis were killed and yet he did not use his authority to prevent the attacks or to protect and assist the group as they sheltered in the local church.
The Security Council set up the ICTR in 1994 in response to that year’s genocide in the small African country, where some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed – mostly by machete or club – in just 100 days starting in early April.