The man who organised the 1994 genocide in Rwanda has been jailed for life. Theoneste Bagosora was accused by the International Criminal Tribunal of commanding the Hutu soldiers and militia who slaughtered 800,000 people, mainly from the rival Tutsi tribe, in just three months.
Prosecutors said Bagosora seized control of Rwanda when President Juvenal Habayrimana was killed in a plane crash. The head of the United Nations peacekeepers in Rwanda at the time said Bagosora was the kingpin behind the subsequent genocide, and had even threatened to shoot him. Other Rwandan officers were also found guilty, but General Gratien Kabiligi was acquitted.
Human rights campaigners welcomed the verdicts, which came more than 14 years after the brief but bloody events. “This verdict sends a very strong signal to tyrants around the world that if they commit the worst crimes they could spend the rest of their lives in jail,” said Human Rights’ Watch spokesman Reed Brody. “It took a long time to get here. It has been seven years since he was arrested, but that is what it takes.” After the killing Bagosora fled abroad, before being arrested in Cameroon and extradited to face trial. Other suspects remain on the run.