- The family of the popular Rwandan musician Simon Bikindi have protested his 15 year jail sentence after being convicted by the UN war crimes tribunal today of inciting violence in the infamous 1994 genocide that killed over 800, 000 people. He was given seven years credit for the time he spend in prison.
Mr Bikindi's wife Paulina said the verdict was based on lies as there were no clear dates given for some of the incidences, saying her husbands was not in Rwanda when the massacres were going on.
The Tanzania-based UN war crimes court today sentenced Mr Bikindi for allegedly using a public address system to tell Hutus to examine Tutsi "snake" and also for writing hate filled propaganda in his lyrics.
Presiding Judge Monica Weinberg de Roca said Mr Bikindi abused his stature as a popular artist to incite genocide.
Prosecutors at the UN-backed tribunal based in Tanzania had called for the singer to be given a life sentence. During the two-year trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Mr Bikindi denied using his music to provoke such killings.
ICTR chief prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow had alleged that his music was a clear provocation for Hutu extremists to slaughter moderate fellow Hutus and minority Tutsis during the 100-day killing spree.
"The Prosecution also alleged that Mr Bikindi was responsible for specific attacks and killings in Gisenyi prefecture, most of them perpetrated by Interahamwe, some being members of the Irindiro ballet," statement read.
But although the court agreed that some of Mr Bikindi's songs were provocative, they were composed before the 1994 genocide, which fell outside the trial's remit.
The 100 days of slaughter began after Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane was mysteriously shot down over Kigali as he returned home from peace talks with Tutsi-led rebels, a move that triggered the Interahamwe to set up roadblocks across Kigali and began killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
Mr Bikindi was arrested in The Netherlands on 12 July 2001 and transferred to the Tribunal on 27 March 2002. The indictment against him was confirmed on 5 July 2001, and a warrant of arrest and transfer was issued. His trial commenced on 18 September 2006.
The Tanzania-based war crimes tribunal has convicted 32 people and acquitted five since it was set up in 1994. Two more judgments are expected by the end of the year.
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