İrem UZUN -TDO- The High Court Chamber of International and Cross-border Crimes in Nyanza district on Thursday has sentenced a former mayor to life in prison for his role in the country's 1994 genocide, which included leading attacks that resulted in the deaths of around 25,000 ethnic Tutsis in his town.

Ladislas Ntaganzwa – a former mayor of Nyakizu – was one of the top fugitive suspects, accused of playing a key role in the massacre of some 800,000 mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus, when he was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015. After his arrestment the 58-year-old man was extradited back to Rwanda in 2016 where he has been on trial since then.

He was found guilty of five crimes including Genocide crime, incitement to commit Genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity, rape as a crime against humanity and murder as a crime against humanity. He is particularly accused of personally leading militias that killed over 20,000 Tutsi in his former commune. Ntaganzwa was however "not found guilty of murder as crime against humanity and direct and public incitement to commit genocide," the prosecution authority said.

The verdict was welcomed by those who survived the massacres, such as Rutayisire Masengo 47, a representative of survivors in Nyarugenge, a district of the capital Kigali, who himself lost six members of his family in the genocide.  "Ntanganzwa was a leader; and leaders like him could have stopped the genocide if they wanted to. Instead, he gave guns and weapons to the residents to kill their fellow residents," he said after the punishment was declared.

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