A former businessman accused of supervising the massacre of some 2,000 Rwandan Tutsi civilians taking shelter in a church was today convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison by the United Nations tribunal set up to deal with the 1994 genocide.
Gaspard Kanyarukiga, who was arrested in South Africa in July 2004, was found guilty of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity, according to a press release by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
Handing down the sentence, the court’s Trial Chamber II announced it was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Kanyarukiga was criminally responsible for planning the killing of the Tutsis who took refuge in the Nyange Church.
According to the indictment presented to the Arusha-based court, which in 2008 decided not to turn over Mr. Kanyarukiga’s case to Rwanda, in 1994 he transported police and members of the notorious Interahamwe militia to the church, in western Rwanda.
The police and militia poured fuel through the church’s roof, set it on fire and then used guns and grenades to kill those seeking shelter inside. The defendant was accused of having supervised these events and then ordered the corpses to be removed and the church destroyed.
The indictment further alleged that the businessman held several meetings with local political and religious leaders where they discussed how to kill Tutsis.
Having found Mr. Kanyarukiga guilty of genocide, the Chamber dismissed the alternative charge of complicity in genocide.
At least 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were murdered in the 1994 violence in the tiny east African country.