, STOCKHOLM, June 19- A Swedish court upheld the conviction Thursday of a man of Rwandan origin who was sentenced last year to life in jail for his part in the 1994 genocide.
Stanislas Mbanenande, an ethnic Hutu, was convicted by a Stockholm district court for his role in the mass murder of Tutsis in Rwanda.
The 55 year old was the first person in Sweden to be charged with genocide.
Mbanenande, who is now a Swedish citizen, denied the charges and appealed his conviction, claiming the allegations against him were politically motivated.
“The Court of Appeal comes to the same conclusion as the district court that the man shall be condemned for genocide and crimes against international law,” the court wrote in a statement, adding that the conviction was based on a large number of reliable testimonies.
During the trial, the district court travelled to Rwanda to inspect the sites of several mass killings and interview witnesses to massacres in which Mbanenande was accused of playing a leading role, including at a church and in a sports stadium.
The court reiterated the earlier judgement that the man had a leading role at a lower level and “collaborated with others to take part in murder, attempted murder, incitement to murder and kidnapping”.
It found that he had “shot at people with an automatic weapon during several massacres.”
Rwanda had sought to have him extradited to face genocide charges, but Stockholm refused because he became a Swedish citizen in 2008, a year after arriving in the country. A Rwandan court sentenced him to life in prison in absentia in 2009.
He was arrested in December 2011 under an international arrest warrant, and was ordered to stand trial in Sweden.
The April 6, 1994 killing of Rwanda’s Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana triggered a genocide in which 800,000 people, mostly from the Tutsi minority, were killed, according to UN figures.