The Government of Rwanda has welcomed a 30-year sentence handed down to a self-confessed top Genocide criminal by a Belgian Court, but reckons that it should be the beginning of many cases that should be tried in Belgium.
The Assize Court sentenced Ephraim Nkezabera nicknamed the “Banker of the Genocide” to a 30-year prison term after finding him guilty of Genocide and crimes against humanity including murder and rape committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Nkenzabera 57, a former Director of Commercial Bank of Rwanda (BCR) did not attend his trial because he is bed-ridden with liver cancer.
“It is a good decision, it had taken too long. Circumstantially, the sentence is fair enough and this should be one of the many cases Belgium has to try,” said Martin Ngoga, the Prosecutor General.
“Belgium has done a commendable job, it has tried many cases but this is not to say it is enough. There are still many suspects in Belgium.”
Ngoga added that Belgian authorities should go ahead and try many more still hiding in the European country.
During the Tuesday sentencing, the court followed recommendations by the Public Prosecutor who had called for a 30-year sentence, rather than a life term, because the suspect had cooperated during inquiries.
Last month, the prosecuting team made up of Nathalie Michele Hirsch, Olivier Slusny and Frederic Clement Cléty, insisted that the accused was ‘a master manipulator’ who is now using his cancer to escape trial, prompting the court to continue the trial in his absence.
Nkezabera was arrested in 2004 after a decade in hiding. As a banker, he was found to be in charge of financing the militia and furnishing them with arms. He initially fled to the Congo, before going to the Netherlands.
He was arrested on June 21 2004 by the Belgian authorities while hiding at the home of one of his sons in Brussels.
Upon his arrest Nkezabera confessed during the investigation that he had funded and armed the Interahamwe militias and also funded the extremist media house Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM).
By his own account, he revealed that he was responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 Tutsi.
He is the eighth person to be convicted of Genocide and crimes against humanity in Belgium.