German court finds Rwanda mayor guilty of assisting genocide

FRANKFURT Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:20am EST

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A German court on Tuesday sentenced a Rwandan Hutu to 14 years in jail for his role in the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, ending Germany's first trial related to the mass killings in central Africa.

Onesphore Rwabukombe, who has lived in Germany since 2002, was a mayor in north Rwanda at the time of the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed in 100 days.

The presiding judge at the court in Frankfurt said in his verdict that while Rwabukombe did not kill anyone, he oversaw and assisted in the murder of at least 450 men, women and children at the Kiziguro church compound in east Rwanda.

Judge Thomas Sagebiel described scenes of slaughter committed with machetes, sticks and hatchets, which Rwabukombe helped to direct, even driving militia men to the site of the ongoing massacre in his own pick-up truck.

Prosecutors had argued that Rwabukombe was responsible for the deaths of more than 3,730 Rwandans and called for a life sentence.

Rwabukombe, 56, denied all charges. His lawyers said they would lodge an appeal.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Andreas Dörnfelder; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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