The United Nations tribunal set up after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda today convicted the country’s former army chief of committing numerous war crimes and sentenced him to 30 years in prison.
Augustin Bizimungu, who served as chief of staff of the Rwandan armed forces, was found guilty of six counts of genocide, crimes against humanity for murder, extermination and rape and violations of articles of the Geneva Conventions.
But the three-judge panel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) acquitted him on a count of conspiracy to commit genocide and dismissed a charge of complicity to commit genocide.
Prosecutors told the tribunal that Mr. Bizimungu had been instrumental in the organization of the genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slain – often by machete – in less than 100 days starting in April 1994.
He reportedly gave an order to “exterminate the small cockroaches” on the first day of the genocide.
Defence lawyers had argued that he had little control over his subordinates who carried out killings.
Three other senior military officers were found guilty today of similar war crimes charges in the same trial as that of Mr. Bizimungu.
François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, who served as commander of the Reconnaissance battalion in the Rwandan army, and Innocent Sagahutu, his second-in-command, were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Augustin Ndindiliyimana, who was chief of staff of the national gendarmerie, will be released immediately after he was sentenced to the time he has served in prison since his arrest in Belgium in January 2000.