April 15, 2016 / 4:16 PM / 2 years ago

Former Rwandan official given life sentence over genocide crimes

KIGALI (Reuters) - 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 Tustis 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.”

Editing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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