The United States said Tuesday that the UN-backed tribunal for Rwanda took a big step to providing justice for Rwandans when it jailed for life two former heads of the ex-ruling party.
On December 21, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) handed life sentences to Matthieu Ngirumpatse, former president of the National Revolutionary Movement for Development, and his former vice president, Edouard Karemera, for genocide crimes committed in 1994.
“The United States welcomes this ruling as an important step in providing justice and accountability for the Rwandan people and the international community,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.
“The defendants were among the leadership of the dominant party in the interim government, the same party that established the Interahamwe militia, which played a leading role in the 1994 genocide,” he said in a statement.
“There are still nine ICTR fugitives at-large, and the United States urges all countries to redouble their cooperation with the ICTR so that these fugitives can be expeditiously arrested and brought to justice,” he added.
Ngirumpatse and Karemera were sentenced for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, for not having prevented or denounced crimes committed in 1994 by the party’s youth wing militia, the Interahamwe.
An estimated 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, were killed in the genocide by ethnic majority Hutus.