Arusha, February 25, 2010 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Thursday sentenced former senior Rwandan military officer Lt. Col. Ephrem Setako to 25 years jail for ordering killings of between 30 and 40 ethnic Tutsi refugees at the Mukamira military camp in northern Rwanda towards close of April 1994.

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Delivering the sentence, the presiding three-bench judge Erik Mose further said that Setako was also  found guilty of killing 10 ethnic Tutsis at the same military camp in Ruhengeri prefecture about a month later.

In the Chamber's findings, two prosecution witnesses provided convincing and largely corroborated accounts of Setako's presence at the military camp on April 25 and May 11, 1994 as well as the ensuing killings of Tutsis following his [Setako's] orders on both occasions.

‘'The Chamber has found this evidence credible,'' stressed the Norwegian Judge Mose before a fully-packed court room as the accused, dressed in light-brown suit heard in disbelief.

 ‘'Setako is therefore guilty of genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity and violence to life as a war crime,'' noted Judge Mose in his summary judgement of less than 30 minutes. He, however, dismissed three other charges of complicity in genocide, murder as a crime against humanity and pillage as a war crime.

Setako, who then headed the division of legal affairs in the Defence Ministry, will benefit from the six years that he has already been in detention in Arusha, the seat of the U.N. Court.

The accused's lead counsel, Professor Lennox Hinds of the United States told Hirondelle Agency that he would appeal against the sentence.

The prosecution lead attorney, Ms Ifeoma Ojemeni Okali, said that justice has been done against the accused but would study the judgement before considering any step.

This was the second judgement by the ICTR for this year after that of Tharcisse Muvunyi, which was delivered on February 11. Muvunyi was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

Setako was arrested in February 2004 in The Netherlands. His trial opened on 25 August 2008 and closed on 26 June last year after 60 trial days-one of the fastest in the ICTR's 15 year history.

The Tribunal has so far convicted 43 persons and acquitted eight.     


© Hirondelle News Agency