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Swedish citizen convicted of genocide in Rwanda

[2016-05-16] Stockholms tingsrätt

Today, Stockholm District Court convicted a 61-year old Swedish citizen of genocide and gross crime under international law consisting of murder, attempted murder and kidnapping in Rwanda. This relates to participation in a large number of massacres during the 1994 genocide where the defendant had an informal role as a leader. The sentence imposed is life imprisonment. 15 crime victims have been awarded damages. It is the first time that a Swedish court awards damages to victims of genocide in Rwanda.

The genocide in Rwanda was committed between 6 April and 18 July 1994. Approximately 800 000 people were killed during the genocide. It has been proved that the defendant has played an informal leader role in his hometown and surrounding areas in the prefecture of Butare in the southern part of Rwanda and that he, in cooperation with others, participated in five attacks during the genocide. The defendant has e.g. been convicted for his participation in the attacks at the mountain of Nyamure when thousands of civilians were killed and an attack against a municipal facility during which hundreds of people died.

According to the District Court, is has been proved that the purpose of the acts of which the defendant has now been convicted was to wholly or partly destroy the Tutsi ethnic group. The acts have therefore been assessed a genocide. The link between the acts and the national armed conflict in Rwanda in 1994 means that they are also severe violations of the rules of international humanitarian law. The defendant is therefore also convicted of a gross crime under international law.

The prosecutor’s evidence in support of the prosecution has mainly consisted of oral information given by people whom have witnessed the attacks. They have testified about events that occurred more than 20 years ago. The vast majority of the witnesses made their observations during emotionally difficult and chaotic circumstances.

“The District Court has conducted a thorough assessment of the information provided by the witnesses. In its assessment, the Court has taken into consideration that humans have a better ability to remember faces that were already familiar when the observations was made, that most of the witnesses knew the defendant, and that humans, in general, are well-suited to remember things that have generated strong emotional feelings in connection to traumatic events,” says the Chair of the Court, District Court Judge Tomas Zander.

The penal value of the crimes is so high that the sentence has been set at life imprisonment.

Based on Rwandan law, the District Court has awarded damages to 15 crime victims in Rwanda. The amounts ranges from 3 million Rwandan Franc to 10 million Rwandan Franc and pertains to acts against the victims themselves or loss of related persons. Never before has a Swedish Court awarded damages to victims of acts of genocide.

Case number

B 12882-14


Questions regarding the case:

District Court Judge Tomas Zander, + 46 8 561 653 61,

District Court Judge Anne Wartin, + 46 8 561 65 403,


Ordering the judgment or documents in the case

Copies of the judgment or documents in the case can be ordered by email at A charge is payable for copies provided. 


Senast ändrad: 2016-05-16

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