(AFP) – 29 March 2011
ARUSHA — The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Tuesday handed a life sentence to a former women’s ministry official found guilty of taking part in the 1994 genocide and of extermination.
“The chamber sentences Jean-Baptiste Gatete to a single sentence of life imprisonment,” presiding judge Khalida Rachid Khan said.
Gatete, an agronomist by training, was in 1994 a top-ranking official at the ministry of family and women’s affairs.
He had been appointed a year earlier after serving as mayor of Murambi in the east of the country.
The tribunal concluded he had retained influence in that region and was responsible for the massacres of at least hundreds of Tutsis in three places in the east: Rwankuba, Kiziguro parish and Mukarange parish.
Tutsis had sought refuge in the parishes from their Hutu attackers.
In both Kiziguro and Mukarange, Gatete was responsible for the “deaths of hundreds and possibly thousands” of Tutsi civilians, the Pakistani judge ruled.
In Kiziguro the victims were tossed into a mass grave, with some Tutsis forced to throw bodies into the grave before being killed themselves, the ruling said.
In Mukarange Gatete armed the killers as well as giving them orders, it said.
“The guns and grenades brought by Gatete and the other officials were a decisive factor in the success of the assault,” the ruling said.
Gatete showed no sign of emotion as the ruling was read. At the end of the hearing, he conferred for a few moments with his French lawyer Marie-Pierre Poulain.
“I am not satisfied with this ruling. I will do what I can,” Poulain told reporters afterwards.
Gatete’s is the first ruling handed down so far this year by the ICTR, which is based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha.