A Canadian court yesterday sentenced Désiré Munyaneza, 42, to life in prison for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, with no eligibility for parole in 25 years.
This is considered to be the harshest penalty under Canadian law.
In May, he was found guilty of seven counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and this makes him the first person in Canada to be tried and convicted for Genocide and war crimes.
The government welcomed the sentencing and hailed the growing positive response from the international community to deal with genocide fugitives.
“We are happy that the whole process has ended that way – we have always said that we would prefer these genocide suspects be brought for trial in Rwanda, but whenever it is not possible, other governments should try them,” Tharcisse Karugarama, Justice Minister told The New Times by phone.
Canadian Justice Andre Denis said Thursday that Munyaneza killed, raped and tortured countless Tutsis.
Munyaneza was accused of having masterminded killings, mainly in the Southern Province, in the current district of Huye, where he connived with former Family Minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son Arsene Shalom Ntahobari to kill and rape Tutsis.
Both Nyiramasuhuko and her son are currently on trial at the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
Theodore Simburudari, the President of Ibuka, an umbrella organization of Genocide survivors, also praised the court’s ruling noting that it means : “evil people who perpetuated and committed genocide here can never, and will never be allowed to go free.”
However, he observed that Canada hosts many other killers like Leon Mugesera who should also be brought to book.
Mugesera lives in Quebec and is known for making inflammatory anti-Tutsi speeches which allegedly, were precursors to the 1994 genocide.
In the 1992 speech, Mugesera told over 1000 ruling party members that: “we the people are obliged to take responsibility ourselves and wipe out this scum” and that they should kill Tutsis and “dump their bodies in River Nyabarongo to flow back to Abysinia.”