Nun jailed for 30 years for aiding mass murder in Rwandan genocide

A CATHOLIC nun has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for helping militias kill hundreds of people hiding in a hospital during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, an official said yesterday.

Theophister Mukakibibi was sentenced by a traditional gacaca court for helping Hutu militiamen to kill ethnic Tutsis seeking refuge from the slaughter in Butare hospital, where she worked.

“She was responsible for selecting Tutsis and would throw them out of the hospital and the militia would then kill them,” said Jean Baptiste Ndahumba, president of the gacaca court in Butare town.

She also denied food to Tutsis hiding in the hospital, he said. About 20 people testified against her.

In the massacre, 100,000 people were killed in Butare. A number of Hutu church leaders are alleged to have played significant roles in the east African nation’s 100-day massacre. More than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by the militia, orchestrated by the then extremist Hutu government. The genocide ended when Tutsi rebels toppled the government.

Some 63,000 genocide suspects are detained in Rwanda, and justice authorities say that at least 761,000 people should stand trial for their role in the slaughter. The suspects represent 9.2% of Rwanda’s estimated 8.2 million people.

A UN tribunal in neighbouring Tanzania is trying those accused of masterminding the genocide. Three clergy have appeared at the tribunal.

In 2001, two Rwandan Catholic nuns were convicted by a Belgian court for aiding and abetting the mass murders. A priest is on trial before the Tanzania-based UN tribunal, accused of ordering the slaughter of 2,000 people seeking refuge in his church.

Rwanda’s genocide began after a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down as it approached the capital, Kigali, on April 6, 1994. He was returning from power-sharing talks with Tutsi rebels.

The genocide ended after rebels led by current President Paul Kagame, ousted the extremist Hutu regime.


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