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Providing Justice and Accountability in Rwanda

A Rwandan survivor of the 1994 genocide prays over the bones of genocide victims at a mass grave in Nyamata, Rwanda, April 2004. (AP/file photo)

Gregoire Ndahimana, who helped lead the massacre of 1,500 Tutsi residents of his town, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

On April 12, 1994, as extremists in Rwanda’s Hutu ethnic group were launching a bloody campaign of ethnic cleansing in that Central African nation, more than 1,500 members of Rwanda’s Tutsi minority in the Kivumu commune sought sanctuary in a local church. Hutu militia and local authorities knocked down the building with a bulldozer and the refugees, many of them women and children, were hacked to death with machetes or shot as they tried to escape. Helping lead the massacre was the local bourgmastre, or mayor, Gregoire Ndahimana.

A fugitive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for several years, Ndahimana was captured and recently convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court for Rwanda, or ICTR, sentenced him to prison of 15 years.

The United States welcomes this ruling as an important step in providing justice and accountability for the Rwandan people and the international community. Ndahimana's conviction is of particular significance because as mayor of Kivumu, he had authority over the police. He failed to act, however, and 1,500 men, women and children were killed like so many head of cattle.

There are nine Rwandan genocide fugitives sought by the ICTR who are still at large. The United States urges all countries to redouble their cooperation with the court so that these men can be expeditiously arrested and brought to justice.