Arusha, 20 August 2009 (FH) - Twenty seven women who were accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide were thrown into prison on Sunday by the Rwandan traditional court, gacaca, in the south-western Rwanda, it was learned from a local source on Thursday.

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The women, who appeared before Kagano gacaca court, in Nyamasheke district, received sentences ranging from 19 to 30 years in prison, Hirondelle News Agency was told by a member of Rwandan association for the defence of human rights.

They were found guilty of having stoned to death several Tutsis who had sought refuge in the parish church of Kagano, added the source, who was speaking over the phone from Nyamasheke.

According to the Rwandan newspaper, The New Times, the court concluded that the women also burned Tutsi houses and looted their goods.

After the verdict, they were taken to the central prison of Cyangugu, in the same district, adds the newspaper.

On August 12, another woman, Elisa Mukanyangezi, 70, was sentenced to life in prison by a gacaca court of Huye district (southern Rwanda) after being found guilty of participation in the 1994 genocide.

Inspired by traditional assemblies during which village wise men, while sitting on the grass (gacaca in Kinyarwanda), settled disagreements, the gacaca courts are charged to try the alleged authors of the 1994 genocide, except for the "planners" at the national level.

They are not presided by professional magistrates but by "just" people elected from among the community.

Committed by Hutu extremists, the 1994 genocide resulted, according to the U.N. in nearly 800 000 people killed, primarily Tutsis.


© Hirondelle News Agency