Two former Rwandan politicians charged with organizing the massacre of 800,000 Hutu and Tutsi during the 1994 Rwandan genocide will serve life sentences for their actions, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda decided on Wednesday.
Mathieu Ngirumpatse, 72, and Edouard Karemera, 60, both former members of the National Revolutionary Movement for Development, were sentenced for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, stemming from their failure to prevent or denounce the crimes committed by the party's youth wing militia, the Interahamwe.
In April 1994, the men allegedly assisted with supplying large amounts of weapons and arms to the Interahamwe in what the court deemed a “joint criminal enterprise” that the two men knew would end in the massacre of thousands of Tutsis and the widespead rape and abuse of women and girls.
"They also bear extended liability for the widespread rapes and sexual assaults of Tutsi women and girls, which were a foreseeable consequence of the joint criminal enterprise," the court said in a statement, according to a Reuters report.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide began when tensions between Rwanda’s Hutu political elite began blaming the entire Tutsi minority population for the country’s increasing social, economic and political issues. The resentment between the two groups boiled for decades as the Tutsis were regarded as the former oppressors and rulers during colonialism.
In April, after Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down and the leader killed, the tensions erupted into bedlam as the Hutu launched indiscriminate attacks on Tutsis, with the aim of exterminating the entire population. An estimated 20 percent of the population was lost over 100 days of violence, consisting of mostly Tutsis and Hutus who refused to take part in the massacres or opposed the violence.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was established to prosecute those responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 1994.
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(Photos from left: REUTERS/ICTR via Reuters TV,George Mulala / Reuters)
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