Arusha, May 31, 2012 (FH) –The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment former Rwandan Youth Minister Callixte Nzabonimana, for his role in the genocide in Central Rwanda.

1 min 16Approximate reading time

A Trial Chamber presided by Ugandan Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa convicted Nzabonimana of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination, as a crime against humanity.

“For these crimes, and considering all relevant circumstances, the Chamber sentences you (Callixte Nzabonimana) to life imprisonment,” the presiding judge announced.

According to the judgment, Nzabonimana agreed with other members of the Interim Government to encourage the killing of members of the Tutsi population, at a meeting in the prefecture, on April 18,1994.

Parties to the agreement shared a “specific intent to destroy the Tutsi population as such in whole or in part in Gitarama prefecture,” the chamber concluded.

The Judges also found that this Geologist who hold a PhD from France incited Hutus to kill Tutsis at several occasions in various locations in Gitarama, in April, May and June 1994.

Shortly after pronouncement of the judgment, the convict’s Lead Counsel, Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse said he had already decided to appeal, “surely we will appeal. The trial is starting now on appeal.”

The Prosecution had labeled Nzabonimana as the main instigator of the killings in his home prefecture of Gitarama. He was a leader of the then Rwandan ruling party, MRND, at both national and prefecture level and at various times between 1989 and 1994, held the positions of Planning Minister and later Minister of Youth within the Government of Rwanda.

Born in 1953, the convict was arrested in connection with the charges on February 18, 2008 in Tanzania. His trial opened on November 9, 2009 and was concluded on September 12, 2011. The prosecution called 20 witnesses, while the defence fielded 40.

Many other members on the interim government were convicted by the ICTR, among them former Prime Minister Kambanda, now serving life imprisonment sentence in Mali.

Four others were acquitted, three of them still hosted by the tribunal, for lack of countries to accommodate them.