Ex-Rwandan official jailed 20 years for genocide

The man who planned one of the bloodiest single episodes of the Rwandan genocide has been found guilty of complicity by a French court and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Laurent Bucyibaruta was the highest-ranking Rwandan to have faced trial in France over the 1994 massacres, in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died.

As governor of the southern Gikongoro province, Bucyibaruta encouraged tens of thousands of Tutsis to take refuge in the Murambi Technical School.

Days later, they were slaughtered.

Evidence from survivors helped convict him.

In just 100 days in 1994, about 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda by ethnic Hutu extremists. They were targeting members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents, irrespective of their ethnic origin.

About 85 per cent of Rwandans were Hutus but the Tutsi minority has long dominated the country. In 1959, the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi monarchy and tens of thousands of Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries, including Uganda.

A group of Tutsi exiles formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which invaded Rwanda in 1990 and fighting continued until a 1993 peace deal was signed.

On the night of April 6, 1994, a plane carrying then-President, Juvenal Habyarimana, and his counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi – both Hutus – was shot down, killing everyone on board.

Hutu extremists blamed the RPF and immediately started a well-organised campaign of slaughter. The RPF said the plane had been shot down by Hutus to provide an excuse for the genocide.

With meticulous organisation. Lists of government opponents were handed out to militias who went and killed them, along with all of their families.

Neighbours killed neighbours and some husbands even killed their Tutsi wives, saying they would be killed if they refused.

At the time, ID cards had people’s ethnic group on them, so militias set up roadblocks where Tutsis were slaughtered, often with machetes which most Rwandans kept around the house.

Thousands of Tutsi women were taken away and kept as sex slaves.

Rwanda has always been a tightly controlled society, organised like a pyramid from each district up to the top of government. -BBC

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