Two Rwandan police officers were sentenced [press release] Thursday to 20 years in jail for the murder of a Transparency International [advocacy website] anti-corruption activist. The motivation for the killing was to prevent Gustave Makonene from revealing the role the two men played in mineral smuggling across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border. Transparency International expressed [press release] happiness that the men would stand trial over a year after the murder, but feel dissatisfied with what they consider a lenient punishment imposed by the court. The judge explained [BBC report] the choice to shorten the life sentence in light of the confession of guilt and cooperation from both Nelson Iyakaremye and Isaac Ndabarinze. Transparency International will consider their appeal options.
Profits from the cross-border mineral smuggling between Rwanda and the mineral-rich DRC is suspected to support rebel groups [JURIST report] within the DRC despite evidence of human rights abuses committed by the rebel groups, including rape, executions and forced recruitment of young boys. Rwanda [JURIST news archive] has historically been the site of considerable human rights abuses committed by both government forces and various rebel groups.The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] continues to try suspects and hear appeals for crimes that occurred during the 1994 massacre where approximately 800,000 people were killed. In July the ICTR unanimously affirmed [JURIST report] a 30-year jail sentence for former army chief Augustin Bizimungu for the role he played in the genocide. In December 2012 the ICTR convicted [JURIST report] former Rwandan minister Augustin Ngirabatware, sentencing him to 35 years in prison on charges of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and rape as a crime against humanity.