Two former government ministers in Rwanda have been convicted by a United Nations war crimes tribunal and each sentenced to 30 years in prison for their roles in the genocide that engulfed the small African nation in 1994.
Justin Mugenzi, who served as commerce minister, and Prosper Mugiraneza, a former minister of civil service, were found guilty on Friday by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
But the ICTR, which is based in Arusha, Tanzania, acquitted two other former government ministers – Casimir Bizimungu and Jérôme-Clément Bicamumpaka – of similar charges and ordered their immediate release from jail.
The four ministers were part of an interim government that ran Rwanda in the wake of the death of then president Juvenal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, an event which led to the start of the genocide. Over the next three months as many as 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed, often by machete and club.
During the trial, prosecutors said the ministers had made incendiary speeches calling for the killing of Tutsis and participated in key government decisions involving the genocide.