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RWANDA-UGANDA: Court finds Rwandan guilty of murdering tourists 7 years ago

Kampala, 9 January 2006 (IRIN) - Uganda's high court found a Rwandan soldier-turned-rebel guilty on Monday of the murder of eight foreign tourists and a Ugandan game ranger in the country's famed mountain gorilla sanctuary.

"In this case, there can be no doubt that members of the group to which the accused belonged had a common purpose in murdering the tourists," said Judge John-Bosco Katutsi when he read the verdict.

The judge will sentence the convict, Jean-Paul Bizimana, 31, on Friday.

Bizimana, also known as Xavier Van-Ndame, was calm as the verdict was read. He was charged with nine counts of capital murder of two Americans, four Britons, two New Zealanders and the game warden.

The prosecution had argued that Bizimana and other suspects who are still at large led some 100 members of Rwanda's Interahamwe militia in kidnapping 14 tourists on a gorilla safari in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda on 1 March 1999.

After releasing six of the tourists, among them a French diplomat, the group used machetes and blunt objects to hack and bludgeon to death the remaining eight visitors. Then, they set ablaze the game warden.

The Interahamwe played a key role in Rwanda's 1994 genocide in which some 937,000 people, mainly Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus, were shot or hacked to death.

Theme (s): Conflict,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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