10 get life for Rwanda grenade attacks

2012-01-14 21:56

Kigali - Rwanda's high court has sentenced 10 people to life in prison for their involvement in grenade attacks in the capital Kigali over the past two years, prosecutors said.

Nine other defendants received sentences of between five and 20 years in prison and eight others were acquitted, a statement by the prosecution office said late on Friday. Two were ordered to pay fines.

Since early 2010, 11 blasts have hit Kigali, killing seven people and wounding around 100. In the most recent attack, an open-air fruit and vegetable market was struck last week by a single grenade that killed two people and wounded 16.

"Justice has been done and we are happy with it," said Alain Mukuralinda, spokesperson for Rwanda's prosecution office. He said, however, that he would wait to read the full judgement to decide whether to appeal any of the sentences.

Some of the defendants are former soldiers accused of having links with the FDLR rebel group in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The FDLR, which has been responsible for widespread atrocities including mass rapes and killings in eastern Congo, says it is trying to overthrow the government in Rwanda.

None of the accused were present at the verdict and only four had lawyers, while the others defended themselves, according to a local reporter who was in court. The defendants have 30 days to appeal.

No suspects have been arrested for last week's attack, which took place when the case against the 29 suspects had already opened. Diplomatic sources say the attacks could have been carried out by more than one group.

The small central African country, which is still recovering from the genocide that killed up to 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994, is generally seen as one of the safer, more stable countries in the region.