Arusha, June 19, 2012(FH) -The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment former Rwandan military officer, Captain Ildephonse Nizeyimana, for his role in the 1994 genocide, including the killings of Rosalie Gicanda, the last Tutsi queen of Rwanda.

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A panel of judges convicted the ex-Rwandan military officer of genocide, crimes against humanity (extermination and murder) and war crimes (murder) for ordering and planning massacres of several individuals at various locations in Butare prefecture, South Rwanda, mainly in April 1994.

“Having considered the gravity of the crimes for which Nizeyimana has been convicted as well as all the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the Chamber sentences Ildephonse Nizeyimana to life imprisonment,” presiding Judge Lee Muthoga pronounced.

Apart from the Tutsi queen, other victims of the massacres included civilians who had taken refuge at Cyahinda Parish, where thousands of Tutsis were killed on April 18, 1994 and Rwandan professor Pierre Claver Karenzi.

“Nizeyimana is responsible for all these crimes through his participation in basic joint criminal enterprise,” the judges concluded.

The judges rejected the defence of alibi advanced byNizeyimana that as of April 20 and 22, 1994 and later from April 26 to the end of May, 1994, he was not in Butare. “The alibi is not credible and does not call into question Nizeyimana’s involvement,” they ruled.

After delivery of the judgment, Nizeyimana’s Lead Counsel, John Philpot, was quick to react, “Of course we are going to appeal, but that is not the point. The point is that the Trial (Chamber) misapprehended the evidence which was mostly from the people organized from Rwanda.”

He went on, “our client was a good fighter, a good soldier who was defending his country from an invasion and was absent when most of these things (attacks) happened.”

In the indictment, the prosecution had alleged that Nizeyimana was second in command, in charge of intelligence and military operations at the Non-Commissioned Officers School (ESO) in Butare, a town full of scholars in Rwanda.

Nizeyimana was arrested in Uganda on October 5, 2009 and transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania the following day. His trial began on January 17, 2011 and was closed on September 21, 2011.