Former Rwandan government minister Nyiramasuhuko convicted of genocide

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Mass grave memorial for victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide
Image: Adrignola.

A United Nations court today convicted a woman, a former minister in the Rwandan government, for her role in the 1994 genocide in the ethnic war between the Tutsi and the Hutu peoples.

Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 65, was found guilty of seven charges including publicly inciting genocide and rape, and conspiracy to commit genocide "as part of a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population on political, ethnic and racial grounds," said the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), a UN backed court in Arusha, Tanzania.

Nyiramasuhuko, who was the Rwandan of Minister of Family and Women's Affairs in Juvénal Habyarimana's government in 1994 when about 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis were killed, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison today. Her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, a militia leader charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and rape, was also convicted and sentenced to life. Four local officials were found guilty on genocide charges and given prison sentences ranging from 25 years to life.

According to prosecutor Holo Makwaia, Nyiramasuhuko intended to "destroy in whole or in part the Tutsi ethnic group in Butare". Following the genocide, she fled Rwanda and was arrested in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1997.

Presiding Judge William Sekule read the judgment: "Many were physically assaulted, raped and taken away to various places in Butare, where they were killed. During the course of these repeated attacks on vulnerable civilians, both Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali ordered killings. They also ordered rapes. Ntahobali further committed rapes and Nyiramasuhuko aided and abetted rapes."

Nyiramasuhuko is the first woman convicted of genocide by the ICTR, which was established in 1994 after approximately 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were massacred during the genocide.


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