Rwanda minister given 30 years' jail for genocide

DAR ES SALAAM Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:35am EDT

A Rwandan genocide survivor is seen in the door of a church filled with human skulls and bones in a file photo. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

A Rwandan genocide survivor is seen in the door of a church filled with human skulls and bones in a file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly

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DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - A U.N. court trying masterminds of Rwanda's 1994 genocide Monday gave a 30-year jail sentence to a former interior minister accused of tricking thousands of people to hide on a hill before they were killed.

The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said Callixte Kalimanzira, a close ally to the president and prime minister during the killing spree, was guilty of genocide and complicity to commit genocide.

"Yes, it is 30 years," Bocar Sy, ICTR head of public affairs and information, told Reuters by phone from Arusha in north Tanzania where the court sits.

Hutu militias butchered 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in the 100-day massacre that shocked Africa and the world.

Fifteen years later, there are still recriminations over the international community's inability to prevent or stop the genocide, and over who exactly was to blame.

In its 2005 indictment, the ICTR accused Kalimanzira of encouraging thousands of Tutsi civilians to take refuge at Kabuye Hill in Ndora commune with promises of food and protection, only for militias then to kill them in his presence.

He was also accused of seeking military and police reinforcements for the massacre.

Kalimanzira, 54, was arrested in 2005 and entered a not guilty plea. His sentencing raises the number of ICTR's judgements delivered to 38. Six of these were acquittals.

The court had until the end of last year, to complete all trials, and until 2010 to hear all appeals before winding up. However cases have spilled over and the ICTR says it is working hard to finish hearing evidence in all trials by the end of 2009.

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