Six genocide convicts begin sentences in Mali

Former Rwandan prime minister Jean Kambanda was among five other genocide convicts transferred to Mali on Sunday to begin serving sentences of between 15 years to life imprisonment, imposed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, news organisations reported.

"Kambanda is the first leader of a government to be convicted of genocide," the Hirondelle News Agency reported.

He pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The other convicts, who also got life terms, are former mayor of Taba commune Jean Paul Akayesu, former governor of Kibuye province Clement Kayishema, and former tea factory director Alfred Musema. They are the first convicts transferred from the tribunal's detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania, to serve sentences in another country. The others are former Interahamwe militia leader Omar Serushago who got 15 years, and former businessman Obed Ruzindana who received a 25-year sentence. All lost their appeals against their sentences. The tribunal has signed agreements to imprison the convicts in Benin, Mali and Swaziland, whose penitentiaries must meet international norms.

The Rwandan government estimates that just over one million people were killed in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. Others put the number at 800,000.

The tribunal has so far handed down eight convictions and one acquittal. The body was created 8 November 1994 to prosecute of persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994. It may also prosecute Rwandans responsible for genocide and other such violations of international law committed in the territory of neighbouring States during the same period.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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