Rwandan sentenced to life in prison for key role in genocide

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — A Rwandan court on Thursday sentenced to life in prison one of the most wanted men in the country’s 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed.

Ladislas Ntaganzwa, who had a bounty of up to $5 million on his head, had faced charges of genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity and rape as a crime against humanity. He denied the charges.

It was not immediately known whether his lawyers will appeal. They didn’t immediately respond to calls for comment.

Ntaganzwa’s conviction comes less than two weeks after another high-profile fugitive, Felicien Kabuga, was arrested in France after a quarter-century on the run. The wealthy businessman is accused of supplying machetes to the killers in the genocide and broadcasting propaganda urging mass slaughter.

On Wednesday, Kabuga appeared in a French court and denied the charges. His request for bail was denied. He seeks trial in France and not in Africa.

Ntaganzwa, a former mayor of Nyakizu in Rwanda’s south, was arrested by agents of Interpol in Congo in 2015 and transferred the following year to Rwanda to face trial.

He is accused of substantially participating in the planning, preparation and execution of the massacre of over 20,000 Tutsis at Cyahinda parish.

According to the indictment, he addressed the surrounded Tutsis and told them to lay down their arms. Then he gave the order for the massacre to begin, “whereupon the gendarmes and communal police shot at the crowd.”

With this month’s arrest of Kabuga and the confirmation last week that another top genocide fugitive, Augustin Bizimana, died 20 years ago in Republic of Congo, the remaining high-profile genocide suspect at large is Protais Mpiranya, a former commander of the Presidential Guard of the Rwandan Armed Forces.