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Former Rwandan official convicted of complicity in genocide

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former official in Rwandan tea industry convicted on one count of complicity in genocide
  • Michel Bagaragaza pleaded guilty under terms of a plea agreement
  • 1994 Rwandan genocide killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus
RELATED TOPICS
  • Rwanda
  • Genocide

(CNN) -- A former top official in Rwanda's tea industry was convicted Thursday of one count of complicity in genocide and sentenced to eight years in prison, authorities said.

The former director general of the office controlling the Rwandan tea industry, Michel Bagaragaza, pleaded guilty under terms of a plea agreement to "having substantially contributed to the killings of more than 1,000 Tutsi who sought refuge at Kesho Hill and Nyundo Cathedral," said a statement from the United Nations' International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

"It also found that he aided and abetted the planners and principal perpetrators of the killings, including military and civilian leaders and members of the Interahamwe militia, members of the presidential guard, military personnel and the staff of Rubaya and Nyabitu tea factories."

He was given credit for time served since he surrendered to authorities and was taken into custody in August 2005.

Bagaragaza was initially charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide and the alternative charge of complicity in genocide. He had pleaded not guilty.

But "after failed attempts to transfer the case to a national jurisdiction and to proceed with the case before the Tribunal on the basis of an initial guilty plea agreement between Bagaragaza and the prosecution, the parties filed another guilty plea agreement in August of this year," the tribunal said. "This time the Trial Chamber accepted it after being satisfied that Bagaragaza's acceptance of the plea agreement was made freely and voluntarily and that it was informed and unequivocal."

Judge Vagn Joensen said during Bagaragaza's sentencing that he had shown remorse for his actions and cooperated with prosecutors.

The 1994 Rwandan genocide left an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead over a 100-day period, the United Nations and Interpol have said. Millions more were raped and disfigured, and nearly an entire generation of children lost their parents.