Former military official “instigated Rwandan genocide”

A former senior defence official was convicted on Thursday of instigating Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. Theoneste Bagosora was sentenced to life in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Former military commanders Anatole Nsegiyumva and Alloys Ntabakuze were also found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and given life sentences. A co-accused, General Gratien Kabiligi, was acquitted of all charges.

Theoneste Bagosora and the others convicted have the right to appeal their convictions.

The ICTR said that Theoneste Bagosora and the two co-defendants led a committee that plotted the massacre of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. More than 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda’s genocide.

Amnesty International said that the conviction of Theoneste Bagosora is welcome news to the survivors of the Rwandan genocide.

“Theoneste Bagosora’s conviction sends a strong signal that those who planned and committed acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity will be brought to justice,” said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme. “There can be no impunity for such serious crimes, whether committed in Rwanda or anywhere else in the world.

“It is important to stress, however, that there are many others still walking the streets who took part in the Rwandan genocide. Many of them are living in exile,” added Tawanda Hondura.

“The international community must complement the work of the UN Tribunal by arresting and prosecuting all those against whom there is evidence that they took part in the genocide. The trials must be fair and must meet international standards of fair trial.”

The ICTR is due to wind up its operations in 2010. Amnesty International has called on the ICTR, and especially the Office of the Prosecutor, to ensure that it deals with all the outstanding cases, without prejudice to the accused persons’ rights to a fair trial.

In addition, Amnesty International also called on the ICTR to ensure that it immediately prosecutes members of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), who are also suspected of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity before, during and after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Amnesty International documented numerous killings by RPF forces during this period, but the ICTR, which was established to prosecute crimes committed by individuals regardless of affiliation, has not prosecuted a single member of the RPF or their civilian superiors in the past 14 years.