Rwanda genocide: International court overturns ex-ministers’ convictions

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A UN-backed court has overturned the genocide convictions of two Rwandan former ministers and ordered their immediate release.

Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza had been sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2011 for complicity, and incitement, to commit genocide.

Analysts say Rwanda’s government is likely to be angry at their acquittal.

About 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Mr Mugenzi was the trade minister during the genocide and Mr Mugiraneza the minister in charge of civil servants.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) convicted them on the grounds that they attended a meeting where a decision was taken to dismiss the prefect of the Butare region in southern Rwanda for preventing massacres from taking place and for attending a meeting where interim President Theodore Sindikubwabo urged people to kill Tutsis.

The appeal judges however found that Mr Mugenzi and Mr Mugiraneza did not know that Mr Sindikubwabo was going to make the speech, AFP news agency reports.

The judges also said the dismissal of the prefect, Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana, could have been decided “for political and administrative reasons” and not necessarily in order to speed up the massacres.

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