updated 9/12/2006 12:32:51 PM ET 2006-09-12T16:32:51

A U.N. tribunal Tuesday convicted a former Rwandan military commander of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1994 genocide and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

Lt. Col. Tharcisse Muvunyi’s troops were behind the “systematic killing” of at least 140 students and Red Cross workers, Judge Asoka de Silva told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

“We have no reason to doubt that Muvunyi had no knowledge of these killings,” the judge said. He added that Muvunyi incited hatred and oversaw roadblocks set up by his troops where Tutsis were separated from Hutus before being executed.

Some 500,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were slaughtered in the genocide.

Muvunyi, whose six years in detention while awaiting trial will be counted against his sentence, showed no emotion as the sentence was read. His lawyer, Taylor Williams, said he would appeal.

Chief of military operations where 100,000 killed
Muvunyi was chief of military operations in Butare province at the height of the genocide. Some 100,000 people were killed in Butare alone during the 100-day slaughter, chief prosecutor Hassan Jallow had told the court based in Arusha, Tanzania.

Earlier Tuesday, a former Rwandan mayor, Jean Mpambara, was acquitted by the court of having any role in the genocide.

Mpambara, who was arrested in 2001 living in a Tanzanian refugee camp, was accused of having led massacres in Rusumo, in southeastern Kibungo province, on the border with Tanzania, where more than 5,000 Tutsi civilians were killed.

Judge Jai Ram Redyy told the tribunal the prosecution had failed to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Mpambara was involved in the 1994 genocide.

Prosecutor Hassan Jallow said prosecutors would study the ruling before deciding to appeal.

Mpambara is the fourth person to be set free by the tribunal since its establishment 12 years ago by the U.N. Security Council.

The tribunal has so far rendered 29 judgments, and trials are on going for another 27 suspects. The U.N. has set a deadline of 2008 to complete all the cases before the tribunal.

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