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Arusha Tribunal Sentences Former Rwandan Cabinet Minister To Life In Prison - 2004-01-22

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has sentenced a former cabinet minister to life in prison for his role in the country's 1994 genocide.

Out of nine genocide-related counts, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda was found guilty of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. For these crimes, he received life in jail.

A courtroom of the U-N International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, heard how the, then, higher education minister issued orders to Hutu militiamen, soldiers and police officers to kill Tutsis in Gikombero Parish.

Kamuhanda went as far as to distribute weapons and lead the attackers to the victims in the parish compound in April 1994.

A spokesman for the U-N tribunal, Roland Amoussouga, says the sentence illustrates that crimes against humanity will not go unpunished.

"This is yet another clear message that there is no impunity for those who commit international crimes. Kamuhanda was a highly sophisticated man in the Rwandan society, an intellectual, yet a tribunal found that he committed genocide and extermination."

The U-N court has handed down 18 verdicts since 1997, convicting 17 individuals on genocide-related charges and acquitting one.

Mr. Amoussouga says three more judgments are expected to be handed down in February. More than 50 suspects have been arrested and indicted on various genocide charges.

During the 1994 genocide, Hutu extremists killed an estimated 800-thousand Tutsis and moderate Hutus.