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Female Minister Guilty of Genocide and Rape In Rwanda

Former Rwandan cabinet minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko

Former Rwandan cabinet minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko

The U.N. war crimes tribunal for Rwanda has sentenced former families minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko to life in prison for genocide and incitement to rape, the court said on June 24.

A spokesman for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said Nyiramasuhuko and her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali were convicted of atrocities committed in Rwanda's southern Butare region during the 1994 massacre.

"She has been convicted for genocide and crimes against humanity, including extermination, rape and persecution," ICTR spokesman Danford Mpumilwa told Reuters by telephone from the court.

Nyiramasuhuko, 65, the first woman to be convicted of genocide by the court, and her son faced a total of 11 charges. The trial lasted 10 years.

"It's shocking that this mother and former social worker, trained to protect life, could instead have been responsible for such appalling crimes," said Freddy Mutanguha, Rwandan Country Director for the Aegis Trust, the genocide prevention organization responsible for the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

The tribunal was set up in November 1994 to bring to justice leaders of the genocide in which some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered to death in less than one hundred days.

The tribunal, based in Arusha, northern Tanzania, allowed the rape charge to be added on grounds that the accused knew her subordinates were raping Tutsi women and failed to take measures to prevent or punish them.