Belgian court jails Rwandan 'genocide banker' for 30 years
A Brussels court on Tuesday sentenced Rwandan Ephrem Nkezabera, dubbed the 'genocide banker', to 30 years in prison for war crimes including murders and rapes during his country's 1994 bloodbath.
A request from the former director of the Commercial Bank of Rwanda for his trial to be postponed for health reasons was dismissed.
In sentencing, the court of assizes followed the recommendation of the public prosecutor who had called for a 30-year sentence, rather than a life term, due in part to the culprit's cooperation during the enquiries.
On Monday the 12 jurors had found him guilty of all the crimes he was charged with: an "indeterminate" number of murders and rapes, committed by him or under his orders.
For the first time in Belgian history rape was thus deemed to be a war crime.
Nkezabera had been close to the government in 1994 at the time of the Rwandan massacre in which some 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis, were killed in a space of 100 days by the army and a Hutu extremist militia.
He admitted, during pre-trial questioning, that he had financed and armed Hutu extremists involved in the genocide and bankrolled an extremist radio station, earning him the tag 'genocide banker'.
However he contested the rape charges.
Reading out his list of crimes, the public prosecutor had stressed that the accused "played a direct part in the genocide by distributing arms to the killers and giving them specific orders to rape Tutsi women and then execute them."
Nkezabera was seized by the authorities in Brussels in 2004 under an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania.AFP/Expatica