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UN war crimes tribunal sentences former Rwandan soldier to 15 years in prison

11 February 2010 – The United Nations-backed tribunal tasked with trying atrocities committed during the 1994 massacre in Rwanda of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus today handed down a 15-year prison sentence to a former soldier, convicting him of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

Today’s decision follows Tharcisse Muvunyi’s retrial after he was found guilty of several acts of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and other inhumane acts and sentenced to 25 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 2006.

In 2008, the tribunal’s appeals chamber set aside the convictions and sentence, but ordered a retrial that began last June of one allegation of direct and public incitement to commit genocide related to a speech Mr. Muvunyi gave in Butare prefecture in May 1994, in which he called for the killing of Tutsis, whom he referred to as snakes.

Mr. Muvunyi, 57, was formerly a lieutenant colonel in the Rwandan army. He was arrested in the United Kingdom in 2000 and transferred to the UN detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania, where the ICTR is based, later that year.

The Security Council authorized the creation of the tribunal in late 1994 in response to the genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed, mainly by machete, within just 100 days starting in early April that year.

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