A Rwandan accused of leading and co-ordinating attacks on minority Tutsis during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the mass slaughter, Rwanda’s high court said.
In the genocide, an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in just 100 days.
Bernard Munyagishari, who headed a government-allied militia known as the Interahamwe in Rwanda’s west, was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Lawyers for Munyagishari said they would appeal.
Timothée Kanyegeri, one of three judges who convicted him, said Munyagishari trained militia in how to distinguish Hutu from Tutsi. He also “told them that to kill as (for a) snake, you have to hit hard the head, otherwise it will sneak away”, the judge said.
Kanyegeri said Munyagishari transported members of the militia in buses as they went to kill Tutsis in Rwanda’s former Gisenyi district and had personally helped distribute guns, machetes, axes and clubs used in the killings.
Munyagishari was arrested in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011. His case was transferred to Rwanda in 2013 from Arusha, Tanzania, where the now-closed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was based.
Munyagishari is being held in Kigali’s central prison and was absent during Thursday’s sentencing.