Arusha’s ICTR convicts Rwandan genocide leader

The Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has sentenced former Rwandan military officer Ildephonse Nizeyimana to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Judges convicted Nizeyimana of war crimes, including the order to kill “several thousand civilians” in Burate in south Rwanda, mainly in April 1994 The ICTR rejected his alibi that he was not in Burate at that time.

Nizeyimana, known by many in Rwanda as the “Butcher of Butare”, was the last member of the former Rwandan army to be tried by the ICTR, and is expected to appeal the court's verdict. He was acquitted of charges of rape. In July 1994 the ex-military captain fled Rwanda to the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but was detained by Interpol in Uganda in October 2009. He had been on his way to the Kenyan capital Nairobi and was travelling with false documents.

Since it was established in Arusha in 1995 the ICTR has completed 46 cases. There are 15 cases pending appeal, 10 acquittals, one case in progress, and four transferred to national courts for judgement. The court's last case involves Augustin Ngirabatware, a former Rwandan government minister indicted by the ICTR for his role in Rwanda's genocide.

From 1 July, the activities of the ICTR are due to be transferred to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunal (IRMCT), also based in Arusha.