The Hague court convicts Rwandan to 20 years

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Rwandan Joseph Mpambara were found guilty of torturing two women and four children to death but acquitted of raping four women during the 1994 genocide.

THE HAGUE – A court in The Hague on Monday sentenced a Rwandan man to 20 years in prison for torturing to death two women and their four children during the 1994 genocide in his country.

Joseph Mpambara, 40, was tried in the Netherlands as part of an agreement between several European countries and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) under which they try genocide suspects in their national courts.

He was the first Rwandan to be condemned in the Netherlands for crimes during the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 Tutis and moderate Hutus died, according to United Nations estimates.

The prosecution had called for a life sentence.

An appeal court had previously ruled he could not face charges of genocide in the absence of sufficient evidence.

Mpambara, the son of a wealthy family, had been living in the Netherlands since 1998 although his request for asylum was refused.   He was detained on 7 August 2006 after a warrant for his arrest was issued under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

His trial lasted from October 2008 to 9 March this year.

A member of the Interahamwe, a militia of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), he halted an ambulance carrying the two women and the four children who were then beaten with clubs and hacked to death with machetes in April 1994. He was also found guilty of detaining a Rwandan-German couple and their baby for several hours and threatening the wife, a Tutsi.

He was acquitted on charges of raping four women, attacking a protestant church - Seventh-Day Adventists in Mugonero - where Tutsis had sought shelter, and kidnapping three children.

Mpambara was also acquitted of war crimes because the judges found his crimes were not part of the war between Rwandan government forces and Tutsi rebels.

Mpambara’s siblings had been sentenced by a Rwandan court for taking part in genocide, said Dutch officials. His brother was sentenced to 25 years in jail for crimes against humanity by the ICTR in Arusha and his sister a life sentence.

AFP / Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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