Associated Press

April 4, 1997

2 Convicted in Rwanda Genocide

LONDON (AP) -- A Rwandan court sentenced two people to death on Friday for their part in the 1994 genocide of 500,000 people, Rwanda radio reported.

The two defendants, Edouard Nyipegika and Jean Habimana, were sentenced in Butare, southern Rwanda, according to the report, monitored by the British Broadcasting Corp. in London.

A third person received a five-year prison sentence, the radio said.

Since trials began in December, Rwandan courts have sentenced a dozen people to death for orchestrating a genocide that killed mainly minority Tutsis.

All those convicted have appealed, and no one has been executed.

The Tutsi-led government has accused a total of 1,946 Rwandans -- mostly Hutus -- of planning the genocide. The Tutsis overthrew the Hutu-dominated administration after the civil war.

More than 90,000 people accused of taking part in the genocide are housed in overcrowded jails.

The Rwandan trials coincide with similar proceedings conducted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania.

Human rights groups are concerned about the Rwandan government trials because many defendants face the death penalty and cannot afford defense lawyers.