Arusha, February 26, 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.

Setako, who then headed the division of legal affairs in the Defence Ministry, will benefit from the six years that he has already spent 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.

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.

Wednesday, genocide-convict and former Rwandan Mayor Laurent Semanza denied before ICTR that he conspired with the former Secretary General of then Rwandan ruling party (MRND), Joseph Nzirorera, to commit genocide in 1994.   

‘'We were entrusted with the responsibility to help people and to provide guidance. How can I and Nzirorera agree to commit crimes?,'' wondered Semaza,66, during his examination in chief.

Semanza was testifying in defence of Nzirorera who is tried jointly with two other senior leaders of the MRND, the party's former President, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, and Vice President, Edouard Karemera.

Semanza, who is serving 35-years jail term in Mali, also denied that he participated in a security meeting with Nzirorera allegedly held in an office at Kigali Ville prefecture on April 30, 1994.

On Thursday, former Rwandan Information Minister, Eliezer Niyitegeka,began to testify for Nzirorera. Niyitegaka was convicted of genocide and sentenced to life imprisonment and is also serving his term in Mali.

The three former party leaders are held responsible on account of their "superior responsibility" for crimes committed by their subordinates.


© Hirondelle News Agency