Rwandan army officer sentenced to 25 years for genocide

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lt Colonel Ephrem Setako — a former Rwandan army officer — has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for ordering the killing of between 30 and 40 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He was found guilty on Thursday of genocide, crimes against humanity, and murder.

Setako was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania. He was acquitted of further charges including complicity to commit genocide, murder as a crime against humanity, and pillage as a war crime.

The ICTR, set up by the United Nations in the wake of the genocide, released a statement via its website saying "the Chamber found that Setako ordered the killings on 25 April 1994 of 30 to 40 Tutsis at Mukamira military camp in Ruhengeri prefecture and around 10 other Tutsis there on 11 May 1994". He is thought to have been one of the key architects of the genocide.

Setako had been head of the Division of Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Defense at the time of the genocide. He was arrested in 2004 in Amsterdam and brought to Arusha. His trial began in 2008 and lasted until June 2009; 55 witnesses gave evidence. The head of the prosecution team, Ifeoma Ojemeni Okali, responded to the sentence saying that Setako should have been imprisoned for life for his crimes.

The judgement follows the conviction earlier this month of former Rwandan military officer Col. Tharcisse Muvunyi, who was sentenced to 15 years for public incitement to commit genocide. Approximately 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were massacred over 100 days during the genocide.