Former army colonel guilty of masterminding Rwandan genocide

A U.N. tribunal has found Theoneste Bagosora, a colonel in the Rwandan army, guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, reported CNN.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found Bagosora guilty of masterminding the genocide that took place in the African nation, leaving an estimated 800,000 people dead.

Bagosora, a colonel in the Rwandan army, was accused of ordering Hutu militia to slaughter rival Tutsis during a 100-day spree of violence in 1994. Prosecutors said he was a key figure in crafting the plan.

The United Nations established the tribunal in late 1994. It was based in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Hutu and Tutsis had signed a power-sharing agreement in 1993, but the peace deal was a facade.

Hutu extremists had no intention of sharing control of the government.

The killings began April 7, 1994, the day after a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot out of the sky with a missile as it prepared to land in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. It was the moment the Hutu plotters had been waiting for -- the spark that ignited the genocide.

Bagosora, a Hutu extremist, immediately declared the army was in charge. Within hours, government troops and civilian death squads began slaughtering Tutsis.

Romeo Dallaire, who was leading United Nations peacekeepers in the central African nation, had warned his bosses that a slaughter was imminent.

Dallaire told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that he and his troops moved through entire villages of dead, sometimes clearing paths through corpses with their bare hands.

"With my own hands I carried them," he said. "We carried them in our arms, we carried kids in our arms, and adults. We were picking the bodies and moving them aside. ...There would be piles of bodies."

Though the Hutu government had far more troops, the Tutsis gained control of more and more of Rwanda, ultimately declaring victory in July 1994.

Bagosora is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, along with three other senior military figures -- Anatole Nsengiyumva, Aloys Ntabakuze and Gratien Kabiligi. All four have pleaded not guilty.

The indictment against Bagosora alleged he was opposed to concessions made by his government to Tutsi rebels at the 1993 peace talks in Tanzania. He allegedly left the negotiations saying he was returning to Rwanda to "prepare the apocalypse."

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The United Nations says the genocide was "highly organized," with top government and ruling party officials playing a role. The U.N. also says lists were drawn up of Tutsi and opposition leaders "earmarked for assassination" before the genocide began.

The U.N. established the tribunal in late 1994. It is based in Arusha, Tanzania.

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