Arusha, May 19, 2011 (FH) - Former senior Rwanda military officers ordered the killing of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana on April 7, 1994, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) says in its judgement delivered Tuesday in the case of four ex-military officers.

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Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye was Commander of the Reconnaissance (RECCE) Battalion, while Captain Innocent Sagahutu was a member of the unity.

"Throughout the attack, Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu remained in contact with the troops on the ground, sending them supplies and issuing operational instructions. Consequently, the Chamber finds Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu ordered the killing of Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana," reads the judgement.

The Trial Chamber convicted the duo of crime against humanity and war crimes for their role in the death of the prime minister and killings of 10 Belgian peacekeepers. They have been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment each.

In its judgement, the Chamber found that the prosecution adduced credible and consistent evidence establishing that RECCE soldiers participated in the attack and killing of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and considered her death to be of great significance.

"Based on the evidence, the Chamber finds (prosecution) proved beyond reasonable doubt that her death was a result of an organized military operation carried out with the authorization of senior military officers," it ruled.

According to the judgement, the Chamber was satisfied that an armoured unit from RECCE battalion under instructions of Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu was involved in the premier's death. It found that the duo also aided and abetted the direct perpetrators, as an aggravating factor.

Regarding the killing of 10 Belgian peacekeepers, the Chamber also found Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu criminally responsible as superiors. Though there was no evidence for his participation in the attack, the Chamber discovered that Nzuwonemeye knew about the killings.

"Nzuwonemeye himself admitted to learning about the killings on his return from the meeting at ESM (Ecole Supérieure Militaire, the Senior Military Officers' School). Despite his knowledge, the Chamber is not satisfied that (he) took sufficient steps to punish those RECCE members involved in the killings," it said.

In the case of Sagahutu, the Chamber found that he was informed of presence of the Belgian peacekeepers in the UNAMIR building that were being attacked in camp Kigali despite their resistance and, thereafter, he instructed soldiers to put down the resistance by the peace corps.

Also in the judgement, two generals, Augustin Bizimungu, who was Chief of Staff of the Army and that of Gendarmerie, Augustin Ndindiliyimana, charged jointly with Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu, were convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.   

Bizimungu was jailed 30 years, while Ndindiliyimana was sentenced to the time served since his arrest on January 29, 2000.


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