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Former Official Sentenced To 35 Years For Role In Rwanda's Genocide

An international criminal court has found a former Rwandan government official guilty of genocide and other crimes, sentencing him to 35 years in prison for his role in the Hutu-led government's murder of ethnic Tutsis on an epic scale. The trial is the last stemming from events 18 years ago.

As Gregory Warner reports for NPR's Newscast unit:

"Augustin Ngirabatware was the planning minister in the militant Hutu-led government that ruled in 1994. Charged with distributing weapons at checkpoints for Hutus to kill ethnic Tutsis, he was found guilty today of genocide, incitement to commit genocide, and rape as a crime against humanity. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison by the United Nations tribunal based in Arusha, Tanzania.

"Ngirabataware was captured in Germany in 2007 and was the last defendant to be tried by the tribunal first set up in 1994."

He was found guilty for his role in a genocide that killed up to 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a period of about 100 days.

As the court wrote in its judgment, "A number of Prosecution witnesses described Ngirabatware as being tantamount to 'a god' in the region."

Ngirabataware "is the son-in-law of Felicien Kabuga, Rwanda's most wanted man, according to court documents," says the BBC, which adds, "Mr Kabuga, who has a $5m (£3m) bounty on his head from the US, is one of nine people indicted by the [International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda] who remain at large."

While the U.N.'s international tribunal based in Arusha, Tanzania, is set to be dismantled in 2014, any future cases will be heard by either Rwandan or other international courts.

As Frank Langfitt reported back in September, Rwanda's economy has become an unlikely success story, with regulatory improvements and a recent average GDP growth rate that tops 7 percent.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has been credited with ushering in a new era for his country, bringing innovative changes to its agricultural systems and the wider economy.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.