Former Rwandan politician given life sentence over genocide

Former Rwandan politician Léon Mugesera is given life sentence for hate speech aimed at stirring up killings of minority Tutsis during central African country's genocide

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Former politician Leon Mugesera (R) talks to his legal counsel at the courthouse in Kigali on April 15, 2016.

A Rwanda court handed a life sentence on Friday to a former senior politician for hate speech aimed at stirring up killings of minority Tutsis during the central African country's genocide more than two decades ago.

An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by extremist forces in the then Hutu-dominated regime over a period of 100 days in 1994.

The high court convicted Léon Mugesera, 64, who was then a regional vice chairman in the ruling party, of genocide and crimes against humanity.

During the trial, Mugesera was accused of having referred to the Tutsis as "cockroaches" who should be sent back to Ethiopia.

"The court finds that Mugesera is guilty of ... public incitement to commit genocide, persecution as crime against humanity and inciting ethnic-affiliated hatred," judge Antoine Muhima said.

In 2012 Mugesera, also a former university lecturer, was extradited to Rwanda from Canada where he had lived in exile for years and resisted efforts to return him to face trial on genocide charges.

He said he would appeal the sentence because the court had not heard any of his witnesses or been "impartial and independent."

TRTWorld, Reuters