Belgian-Rwandan man sentenced to 25 years for genocide crimes

A court in Brussels has sentenced 65-year-old Belgian-Rwandan Emmanuel Nkunduwimye to 25 years in prison for his involvement in murder and rape during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The verdict was delivered on Monday after Nkunduwimye was found guilty of war crimes and genocide, including the rape of a Tutsi woman.

Nkunduwimye, who owned a garage in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, during the genocide, was arrested in Belgium in 2011. His garage was part of a complex where Interahamwe militiamen carried out numerous massacres. Nkunduwimye was closely associated with several militia leaders, including Georges Rutaganda, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and died in 2010.
The jury concluded that Nkunduwimye assisted the militia ‘with full knowledge of the facts,’ emphasizing that he could not have been unaware of the atrocities committed at his garage. Belga news agency reported that the sentencing underscored his complicity in the crimes.

During the trial, which commenced in April, a woman who was raped by Nkunduwimye testified privately, formally identifying him as her attacker. Despite denying the accusations, Nkunduwimye’s defence called for his acquittal, arguing that the prosecution’s evidence was unreliable.
Prosecutors had initially sought a 30-year prison sentence for Nkunduwimye. The court ultimately sentenced him to 25 years.

The 1994 Rwandan genocide resulted in the deaths of at least 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis and moderate Hutus, over a span of three months. Belgium, which ruled Rwanda during the colonial period, has since held seven trials related to the genocide. These trials are possible due to Belgium’s recognition of universal jurisdiction for crimes under international humanitarian law committed outside its borders.

The trial of Emmanuel Nkunduwimye is the latest in a series of genocide-related prosecutions in Belgium. In December 2023, Seraphin Twahirwa was sentenced to life imprisonment for numerous murders and rapes carried out by himself and the Interahamwe militia under his command in Kigali between April and July 1994.
The sentencing of Emmanuel Nkunduwimye reinforces Belgium’s commitment to prosecuting those involved in the Rwandan genocide, demonstrating the enduring impact of these historical crimes and the ongoing pursuit of justice for the victims.

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