Sweden: Refugee from Rwanda convicted in 1994 genocide

AP News
Posted: May 16, 2016 10:43 AM
Sweden: Refugee from Rwanda convicted in 1994 genocide

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Swedish citizen originally from Rwanda was sentenced to life in prison Monday for his role in the 1994 genocide in the African country.

Claver Berinkindi was found guilty of genocide and gross violation of international law.

Some 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were killed by Hutu extremists during the Rwandan genocide, according to the U.N.

The Stockholm district court said Berinkindi, 61, was an informal low-level Hutu leader who took part in massacres of civilians in Muyira and Butare in southern Rwanda.

Berinkindi was ordered to pay a total of 81 million Rwandan francs (about $110,000) in damages to 15 plaintiffs who survived the attacks or whose close relatives were killed.

"Never before has a Swedish court awarded damages for victims of acts of genocide," the court said in a statement.

Berinkindi's lawyer, Hanna Lindblom, said her client, who denied the charges, would appeal the ruling.

"He was in his home village when these horrible events took place. But he has not participated in genocide. He was at home," Lindblom told The Associated Press.

Rwandan authorities initially wanted to prosecute Berinkindi there but since he's a Swedish citizen he couldn't be extradited.

He and his family came to Sweden as refugees in 2002 and he became a Swedish citizen 10 years later.

Swedish police arrested Berinkindi in September 2014 after wire-tapping his phone.