Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda (pictured left), a Rwandan politician, was sentenced on this day in 2004 for his role in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Kamuhanda ordered the slaying of Tutsi tribe members, leading to his guilty verdict for genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.
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Kamuhanda was born in Gikomero, Rwanda. He later rose to become the Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Culture under Jean Kambanda‘s interim government.
Kamuhanda, a Hutu, gave a speech in Gikomero, where he urged the slaying of the Tutsi people, who were clashing with the Hutu majority in the epic power struggle within Rwanda.
Kamuhanda was not pleased that Tutsis were not being killed, so he provided weapons to those willing to carry out the slayings for him. At the end of his speech, Kamuhanda gave out machetes, firearms and grenades to attendees and said he would return to the region to follow progress.
Kamuhanda gave orders to the paramilitary Hutu Interahamwe fighters to kill Tutsis who were hiding in a church in Gikomero on April 12, 1994.
That July, Kamuhanda fled to France to avoid charges for his crime.
With the assistance of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and via the request of its prosecutor, Kamuhanda was arrested by French authorities on November 26, 1999. The following March, Kamuhanda was placed in the ICATR detention facilities in Arusha, Tanzania.
During his 2004 trial in Tanzania, Kamuhanda was convicted of genocide and of extermination as a crime against humanity.
He was acquitted of several other charges, including conspiracy to commit genocide, rape as a crime against humanity, war crimes, and inhumane acts.
Kamuhanda was sentenced to life in prison. The sentence was solidified on September 19, 2005, and in December 2008, he was transferred to Mali to serve out the rest of time.
The Rwandan Genocide is one of the most chilling instances of mass slaughter in history, with as many as 1 million Rwandans reportedly killed in the clashes.
Watch a documentary about the Rwandan genocide here: