DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - The U.N. war crimes tribunal for Rwanda on Wednesday found two bosses of the former ruling Hutu-led party guilty of genocide for their leading roles in the 1994 massacre of Tutsis and moderate Hutus, and sentenced them to life in prison.
Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera who were president and vice-president of the ruling MRND party at the time of the genocide, had pleaded not guilty to the charges laid by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
"The chamber unanimously condemns Ngirumpatse to life in jail," said presiding Judge Dennis Byron, before pronouncing the same sentence for Karemera.
The indictment had said the pair had a "superior responsibility" within the MRND, whose youth wing, the Interahamwe, carried out most of the atrocities.
The Tanzanian-based court said Ngirumpatse, 72, and Karemera, 60, were members of a joint criminal enterprise to destroy the Tutsi population.
During the genocide, some 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered in 100 days of systematic killings.
"They also bear extended liability for the widespread rapes and sexual assaults of Tutsi women and girls, which were a foreseeable consequence of the joint criminal enterprise," the court said in a statement.
Last month, the U.N. court found former mayor Gregoire Ndahimana guilty of genocide for planning the slaughter of more than 2,000 Tutsi refugees in 1994, and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
The court in late September acquitted two former ministers of key roles in the genocide, a verdict Rwanda's chief prosecutor described as "shocking," but convicted two other former cabinet ministers.