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Genocide convictions overturned

GENOCIDE: Bodies of Rwandans await proper burial

TWO RWANDAN ex-ministers who were sentenced to 30 years in jail for genocide in 2011 have been released with immediate effect after a UN appeal court overturned their convictions.

Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza were originally charged with complicity to commit genocide and incitement to commit genocide during the 1994 mass slaughter of around 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Appeal Judge Theodor Meron overturned the convictions on Monday ( February 5) because “ the ICTR Appeal Chamber believes strongly that there were errors in the trial chamber’s assessment of the evidence,” Roland Amoussouga, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda spokesperson, told Reuters new agency.

The lower court had convicted the trade minister and former minister in charge of civil servants on the grounds that they attended a council of ministers meeting that decided Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana, the then prefect of Butare, a region in southern Rwanda, was to be dismissed on the grounds that he was preventing the massacres from starting in his region. Habyarimana, was killed after his dismissal and the massacres promptly started in Butare.

The appeal judges, however, found that Mugenzi and Mugiraneza did not know there was going to be such a speech, and that the dismissal of the prefect could have been decided “for political and administrative reasons” and not necessarily in order to speed up the massacres.

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