Tribunal sentences ex-minister to two life imprisonment terms

The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda handed down two life sentences on Thursday to a former minister for culture and higher education in Rwanda, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, for the crimes of genocide and extermination.

Kamuhanda committed the crimes in Rwanda during the April-June 1994 genocide, which claimed the lives of at least 800,000 people.

On eight other counts of complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity for murder, rape and other inhuman acts and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions, Kamuhanda was either found not guilty or the counts were dismissed.

Kamuhanda was initially accused alongside seven other people, all members of the interim government or leaders of the Mouvement revolutionnaire national pour le developpement but his defence argued that he be tried alone because he only became a minister in the interim government on 25 May 1994.

Delivering the sentence, Judge William Sekule (presiding) said that before the genocide, Kamuhanda had been "influential" and was widely considered to be a "good man" but instead of appreciating the value of "life and tolerance", he blamed people who were living peacefully for not taking part in the violence.

The UN Security Council established the tribunal in 1995 to bring to trial the alleged perpetrators of the genocide. It has now handed down 13 convictions.