UN genocide tribunal confirms 25-year jail term for Rwandan ex-army officer

27 November 2007 – The United Nations tribunal dealing with the worst crimes committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide today upheld the 25-year prison sentence for a retired lieutenant colonel and former lawmaker found guilty of two counts of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.

A five-member panel on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), sitting in Arusha in neighbouring Tanzania, dismissed the appeal of Aloys Simba against both his conviction and his sentence. Mr. Simba was convicted in 2005 over his participation in the massacre of Tutsis at Murambi Technical School and Kaduha Parish in the Gikongoro prefecture on 21 April 1994.

The judges also turned down the prosecution’s appeal against Mr. Simba’s acquittal on charges relating to killings in nearby Cyanika Parish and against the length of the sentence.

During his trial, the court heard how Mr. Simba distributed weapons at the school and in Kaduha. Militiamen, backed by gendarmes, then killed thousands of Tutsi civilians at the school, in Cyanika and in Kaduha, in what the trial judges described as “a highly coordinated operation” involving the support of local authorities and prominent people. The ICTR noted that this operation went on for about 12 hours on a single day.

Mr. Simba was a member of the “Comrades of the Fifth of July,” who participated in the coup d’état that brought former President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, to power in 1973. Mr. Habyarimana died in the crash of an aircraft on 6 April 1994 in Rwanda, along with his Burundian counterpart Cyprian Ntayamira. Their deaths set off a chain of killings throughout Rwanda, with more than 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus, killed in the genocide.

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