Arusha, December 06, 2010 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday sentenced former Rwandan military officer, Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of genocide and murder and rape as crimes against humanity.

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''Considering the relevant circumstances in the judgment, the Chamber sentences the accused to a single sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of his life,''Presiding Madagascan Judge Alertte Ramaroson announced as she was flanked with two other judges of the bench.

''The Chamber finds, beyond reasonable doubts that Hategekimana ordered the genocide of Tutsi refugees who had sought refuge at the Ngoma church,'' said the Presiding Judge.   

The officer who commanded the small military camp of Ngoma, in Butare (southern Rwanda) in 1994 is part of the five accused that the ICTR prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, sought in vain to transfer to Rwandan courts. The convict is a native of Mugina, in the former prefecture of Gitarama (central Rwanda).

After the verdict, Defence counsel for the accused, Jean de Dieu Momo from Cameroon told Hirondelle News Agency in an interview that he would appeal the decision handed down against his client.

''We are not satisfied with the decision of the court. Our duty and our rights are to go to the Appeals Chamber. We just lost a battle we have not lost the war. We will do what we can to succeed in the appeal,'' Momo emphasized.

On the other hand, ICTR Prosecution Attorney, Cameroonian William Egbe was happy with the decision, stating: ''we are pleased with the verdict which has been delivered in the case of Hategekimana (...) It is a victory of the international justice.''

The prosecution concluded its case on May 4, 2009 after presenting 20 witnesses and the defence rested its case on October 7, same year, after fielding the same number of witnesses.

This trial started on March 16, 2009. Four other cases involving a total of 15 accused are awaiting judgment at the UN Tribunal.


© Hirondelle News Agency