En av arkitektene bak folkemordet i Rwanda, oberst Theoneste Bagosora, (67) ble torsdag dømt til livsvarig fengsel av Arusha-tribunalet.
On Thursday, the court said Bagosora used his position as the highest authority in Rwanda’s Ministry of Defense to direct Hutu soldiers to kill Tutsis and moderate Hutus. According to the indictment against him, Bagosora once said he was returning to Rwanda to «prepare the apocalypse.»
The court said he was responsible for the deaths of former Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers who tried to protect her at the outset of the genocide. Belgium had sought Bagosora’s extradition for the murder of 10 Belgian peacekeepers.
«It’s been a very important day in the tribunal here with judgments given in respect of very important cases which shed a lot of light on really what happened on that fateful day, on 6th April 1994, and the few days following thereafter,» Hassan Bubacar Jallow, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, told French international news channel France 24.
Bagosora had participated in international talks arranged in the early 1990s, but grew angry with government delegates he deemed soft on Tutsi-led rebels and said he was returning to Rwanda to «prepare the apocalypse,» the indictment quoted him as saying.
Hours after Habyarimana’s plane crashed, militants from the Hutu ethnic majority known as Interahamwe set up roadblocks across Kigali and the next day began killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The slaughter ended after Tutsi rebels led by Paul Kagame, now the president, drove out the genocidal forces.
Reed Brody, a specialist in international justice for Human Rights Watch, said Thursday’s sentence sent a clear message to other world leaders accused of crimes against humanity and genocide, like Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
«It says watch out. Justice can catch up with you,» Brody said. «The authors of genocide can and will be punished by the international community.»