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US welcomes Rwanda genocide sentences

WASHINGTON, May 20 – The United States said Thursday the genocide conviction and sentence of ex-Rwandan army chief Augustin Bizimungu shows that even top military officers are not immune from prosecution.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) handed Bizimungu a 30-year jail term for his role in the 1994 genocide. The court this week also sentenced three other military officials over the mass murder of Tutsis.

"The United States welcomes the ruling as an important step in providing justice and accountability for the Rwandan people and the international community," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

"The conviction of Mr. Bizimungu, in particular, shows that even those at the highest levels of military leadership are not immune from prosecution in the face of such grave atrocities," it said.

It recalled that the other three sentenced in connection with the genocide were Augustin Ndindiliyimana, Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Innocent Sagahutu.

"There are still 10 ICTR fugitives at-large and the United States urges all countries to continue their cooperation with the ICTR so that these fugitives can be expeditiously arrested and brought to justice," the statement said.

The ICTR, based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, was established in late 1994 to try the Hutu perpetrators of Rwanda\’s genocide which claimed some 800,000 lives, mainly minority Tutsis, in a span of 100 days.

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