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Tribunal Sentences Former Rwandan Interior Minister to 30 Years for Genocide Role

A United Nations court has sentenced a former interior minister of Rwanda to a 30-year prison term for his role in that country's 1994 genocide. Callixte Kalimanzira was convicted on charges of genocide and incitement to commit genocide.

"The trial chamber finds unanimously in respect of Callixte Kalimanzira as follows. Count one: guilty of genocide. Count two: dismissed. Count three: guilty of direct and public incitement to commit genocide," said Judge Dennis Byron, head of a three-judge panel, as he announced the decision of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

The U.N.-sponsored court, based in Arusha, Tanzania, convicted Callixte Kalimanzira, 58, on charges of genocide and "direct and public incitement to commit genocide". Kalimanzira had been close to both Rwanda's president and prime minister at the time of the 1994 genocide.

According to the court, Kalimanzira did not kill anyone directly, but rather directed thousands of ethnic Tutsis to a hill near Butare, Rwanda's second city in the south of the country, offering food and safety. He then supervised an attack by militias on the location, and ordered police and military reinforcements, according to the 2005 indictment.

The judges also said Kalimanzara abused the influence and trust of his role as a high-ranking official.

"The influence he derived from this and his important status within the ministry of the interior made it likely that others would follow his example, which is an aggravating factor," Judge Byron said. "Most significantly by encouraging Tutsi refugees to gather at Kibuye Hill, where he knew they would be killed in thousands. He abused the public's trust that he like other officials would protect them."

He was also found guilty of publicly inciting genocide on multiple occasions in April and May 1994. However, the judges denied the prosecution's request for a life sentence, the maximum allowed under the tribunal.

Kalimanzira was arrested in 2005, after an indictment by the court. His time served will be credited towards his sentence. His trial began in May of 2008.

Over 800,000 people, most of them Tutsis, were killed over a 100-day period in 1994.

The international tribunal, established in November 1994 by the U.N. Security Council to try those most responsible for orchestrating the genocide, is scheduled to finish at the end of the year, but the court has asked for additional time. So far, the court has produced 38 decisions, including six acquittals.