19 Dec 2008

Former Rwandan army colonel jailed for genocide

6:08 am on 19 December 2008

A United Nations court has sentenced a former army colonel accused of masterminding the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994 to life in prison.

The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda had accused Theoneste Bagosora, 67, of being in charge of the troops and Hutu militia who butchered 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days.

After the genocide, he fled into exile in Cameroon where he was arrested in 1996.

His trial began in 2002 and lasted five years until mid-2007.

Prosecutors said Bagosora, then cabinet director in the Defence Ministry, assumed control of military and political affairs in the central African country after President Juvenal Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down.

Bagosora faced 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was acquitted of the charge that he conspired to commit genocide before April 1994.

He was found guilty in connection with the killing of 10 Belgian peacekeepers and responsible for the deaths of the Rwandan prime minister and the head of the constitutional court.

He was also found responsible for organised killings at a number of sites in Rwanda's capital Kigali and in Gisenyi.