Friday, 30 October 2009

Rwanda - the long arm of justice

The latest war criminal to be gaoled for his role in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 was imprisoned in faraway Canada. Desire Munyaneza, who will spend at least 25 years behind bars, was convicted in the first case brought under Canada’s War Crimes Act, which allows people to be tried for crimes they committed abroad.

Munyaneza, whose lawyer says he will appeal, was accused of leading a militia whose members raped and killed dozens of Tutsis, and of orchestrating a massacre of 300-400 in a church. Astonishingly during the 100 day genocide, in which 800,000 people died, more victims were said to have been murdered in churches than in any other kind of building. Earlier this year, a former priest was convicted for his part in the genocide (see my blog of March 1).

The Rwandan had sought asylum in Canada, but was arrested in 2005. The United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has so far completed 47 cases (six defendants were acquitted). There are 26 cases in progress and another three people are awaiting trial.

See also my blogs of January 23, March 4, March 23 April 9, July 16, Sept 23, and Oct 8.

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