A Dutch court has sentenced a Rwandan man, Joseph Mpambara, to 20 years for his role in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.
The judges said there was compelling evidence that Mpambara ordered the killing of two Tutsi mothers and their children hauled out of an ambulance they were using to flee violence. They were bludgeoned and hacked with clubs and machetes.
“The defendant has robbed two women and at least four children of their most valuable possession; their lives,” the judges said.
“The crimes this man committed are among the most serious ever to come before a Dutch court.”
The judges told Mpambara that “a sentence of 20 years does not do justice to the seriousness of your crimes.”
Their only other option after convicting him of torture leading to death was a life sentence, which they refrained from imposing. The judges said that the U.N.’s Rwanda war-crimes tribunal likely would not have sentenced him to life.
The allegations against Mpambara, 40, became known when he applied for asylum in the Netherlands. Under Dutch law he can be tried for war crimes and torture committed in another country because he was living here at the time of his arrest.
Mpambara also was convicted of torturing a German doctor, his Tutsi wife and their 2-month-old son by threatening their lives after detaining them at a roadblock as they tried to flee the country.
The judges said the threats_ which included asking the woman which of three different villages she would like to be killed in_ subjected the couple to unbearable mental anguish that amounted to torture.
Dr. Wolfgang Blam and his wife, who were not in court Monday, each were awarded compensation of euro680 (US$920), the maximum allowed under Dutch law at the time of the crimes.
Mpambara is the brother of Obed Ruzindana an important businessman sentenced to 25 years imprisonment by the Appeal Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 2001 for genocide and crimes against humanity.
Mpambara applied for asylum in the Netherlands in 1998 and was living in Hilversum at the time of his arrest in August 2006.
The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) denied the asylum application of Mpambara because together with his brother he allegedly decided on life or death at the roadblock in his place of residence Mugonero.
According to the IND there were strong reasons to believe that M. was involved in massacres in Rwanda in 1994.
Mpambara allegedly was a member of the Interahamwe, a militia of a national state party, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND).
He was accused of involvement in the mass murder of Tutsi refugees in a complex of the Seventh Day Adventists in Rwanda, the murder of seven passengers of an ambulance, acts of rape He was also accused of being involved in taking away from their grandparents three young children aged 2, 6 and 8 years, who were never heard of again.
Judges said in a 230-page ruling they found inconsistencies in the testimonies of five key witnesses linking Mpambara to the April 1994 massacre of dozens of Tutsis sheltering in the Seventh Day Adventist church.
In the case of the rapes, only one witness alleged that he was involved in the attacks. Under Dutch law one witness is not enough to convict.
The complex judgment cleared Mpambara of war crimes, saying that the killings of the Tutsis and detention of the Germans were not part of the war raging between Rwandan government forces and Tutsi rebels that formed the backdrop to the country’s genocide.
The judges said they reached the conclusion because Mpambara was not part of the Rwandan government army fighting Tutsis.
Spokesman Wim de Bruin said prosecutors had not decided whether to appeal.