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Ex-mayor gets 30 years in Rwanda case

UN tribunal cites role in '94 genocide

ARUSHA, Tanzania -- A UN tribunal trying the alleged masterminds of Rwanda's 1994 genocide convicted a former Rwandan mayor yesterday for his role in the slaughter, sentencing him to 30 years in prison.

Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, 57, was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda of genocide, extermination, and rape for ordering the killings of minority Tutsis in the southeastern commune of Rusumo, where he was mayor.

More than 500,000 minority Tutsis and political moderates from Rwanda's Hutu majority were killed in the genocide orchestrated by a regime of Hutu extremists.

''Under Gacumbitsi's instructions, the killings took place in Rusumo commune. . . . He also facilitated the transport of attackers and weapons," presiding Judge Andresia Vaz said as the verdict was delivered.

Rwanda is a highly organized society, and the mayors of communes, or ''bourgmestres," as they are called in French, are the most powerful local leaders.

The tribunal has convicted a number of former mayors.

The tribunal, which is based in Arusha, acquitted Gacumbitsi on charges of complicity in genocide and murder.

Me Koungoua, one of Gacumbitsi's lawyers, said he would appeal the verdict. ''I am not happy that not all issues were properly tackled by the court," he said.

Rwanda's special representative to the tribunal, Alloys Mutabingwa, said, ''The 30-year sentence is not enough.

''He was an important figure and should have been given the life sentence."

Gacumbitsi was arrested June 20, 2001, in a refugee camp in western Tanzania and immediately handed over to the tribunal.

The tribunal has convicted 18 people and has acquitted three since it was created in November 1994.

Six of those convicted by the tribunal are serving their sentences in Mali. Appeals are still pending for the 12 others.

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