Rwandan Military Leader Convicted of Genocide


Col. Theoneste Bagosora, and two accomplices, Maj. Aloys Ntabakuze and Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva were sentenced to life imprisonment for “genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes” by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda this afternoon.

This is very welcome news. Bagosora was a top Rwandan military official who upon the assassination President Habyarimana became one of the most powerful people in the country. He was a Hutu extremist and was irreconcilable to the prospect of a power sharing arrangement with Tusti leaders, known as the Arusha Peace Accord. He was so opposed to the peace process, that he walked out of the talks to “prepare the apocalypse.”

The apocalypse would begin April 7, 1994 when President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down. Over the course of 100 days, some 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis would be killed. How such efficient mass murder was carried out is detailed in Bagosora’s criminal indictment, which reads like a how-to manual for committing genocide.

First, he sought to kill off moderate Hutu’s–his main political adversaries. The indictment shows that as far back as 1992 he instructed intelligence officers to generate a list of people to kill. The Rwandan Foreign Minister and Prime Minister would be among the first of his victims.

Colonel Theoneste Bagosora participated in the Arusha talks, and openly manifested his opposition to the concessions made by the Government representative, Boniface Ngulinzira, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the point of leaving the negotiation table. Colonel Theoneste Bagosora left Arusha saying that he was returning to Rwanda to “prepare the apocalypse”. On 11 April 1994, Boniface Ngulinzira was assassinated by the military. His death was announced on [a Hutu extremist radio station] in these terms: “We have exterminated the accomplices of the RPF, Boniface Ngulinzira will no longer go and sell the country to the RPF’s advantage.

His main political adversary, though, was the de-jure head of state, Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, also a moderate Hutu. He plotted to kill her and the UN peacekeepers protecting her home.

Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana was tracked down, arrested, sexually assaulted and killed by Rwandan Arnay personnel, more specifically, members of the Presidential Guard, the Para-Commando Battalion and the Reconnaissance Battalion. Concurrently, members of the same units arrested, confined and killed important opposition leaders…That same morning, the ten Belgian para- commandos from UNAMIR who were dispatched to the Prime Minister residence to escort ber to the radio were murdered at Kigali military camp.

As the top military official, he had access to the military’s weapons stores. He plotted to distribute those weapons to irregular militia’s (known as the interhamwe) and instructed the militias to set up roadblocks throughout Kigali. Tutsi’s would be summarily executed at these roadblocks.

In order to implement the plan for the extermination of the enemy and its “accomplices”, the militiamen were to receive weapons, in addition to military training. Hence, the military and civilian authorities distributed weapons to the militiamen and certain carefully selected members of the civilian population in various prefectures of the country before and during the events referred to in this indictment, Augustin Bizimana, Théoneste Bagosora, Protais Mpiranya, Anatole Nsengiyumva, Aloys Ntabakuze and others distributed weapons to the militiamen and certain carefully selected members of the civilian population with the intent to exterminate the Tutsi population and eliminate its “accomplices.”

A very bad man will now spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Photo credit: AFP