The life sentences handed to the two heads of the former ruling party, MRND, by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is, without doubt, a relief to Genocide survivors, the Rwandan people, as well as those who continuously seek to see that the perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, don’t get away with the crimes they committed.
Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, the president and vice-president of the notorious MRND party, respectively, were sentenced to life in prison after they were found guilty of playing a major role in the Genocide.
The life sentence is the highest punishment that can be handed by the Tanzania-based UN tribunal.
The same court, just a fortnight ago, ruled to reduce, on appeal, the life sentence of Col Theoneste Bagosora, to 35 years in prison.
One is tempted to question whether it is not double standards at play, because reducing the sentence of a man of Bagosora’s status and role, at least at the height of the Genocide, and levy the heaviest sentence on his colleagues, simply does not make sense.
The top MRND leaders, despite their positions within the party, were subordinate to Bagosora, who played a central role in appointing the interim government that carried out the Genocide.
Never the less, the tribunal maintains the responsibility to ensure that justice is effectively delivered and with more cases in the pipeline, nothing less is expected.