Today, the High Court for International Crimes delivers its verdict on 21 defendants who, as members of the National Liberation Front (FLN), have been charged with terrorism charges, with three convictions handed down to date.
The charges related to acts of terrorism, focusing in particular on two organized attacks that took place in 2018. The brutal and unprovoked attacks by the FLN tragically claimed the lives of nine innocent Rwandans, including elderly children. 13 and 17 years old.
They left many seriously injured and caused significant material and economic damage in southwestern Rwanda.
Among the condemned was the commander and spokesperson of the FLN, Callixte Nsabimana, arrested in 2019.
Before that, he claimed responsibility for the 2018 attacks and announced plans for more attacks. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison, having pleaded guilty to most of the charges.
Another FLN spokesperson, Herman Nsengimana, was sentenced to five years in prison. Member of the CNRD (National Council for Renaissance and Democracy), Nsengimana was arrested in 2019 in South Kivu province in Congo along with more than 400 other CNRD insurgents.
The CNRD is a dissident faction of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) based in Congo. It was led by FLN co-founder Col. Wilson Iratekega until his death in January 2020.
The founder of the FLN, Paul Rusesabagina, was also sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Before the trial, Rusesabagina publicly admitted to having founded the group as an armed wing of his political party, the MRCD (Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change). He had repeatedly expressed his support for the group’s activities, including after the 2018 attacks.
Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said: “This long trial has exposed the terrorist activities of the FLN group led by Rusesabagina.
The evidence against the accused was indisputable and the Rwandan people will feel more secure now that justice has been served.
The trial was a long and painful ordeal for the victims of the FLN attacks, in particular for those who were called to testify. Our hearts go out today to these brave witnesses, as well as to the families and friends of the victims. “
Important notes on the case
1) The first FLN attack took place on June 19, 2018, in Nyabimata, Nyaruguru district. A subsequent attack took place nearby in Kitabi, Nyamagabe district, on December 15, 2018. Nine Rwandan civilians were killed in the attacks. The victims included two children: Ornella Sine Atete (13) and Isaac Niwenshuti (17).
2) In December 2018, Callixte Nsabimana, also known as “Sankara”, spoke to international radio and social media to announce that the FLN had claimed responsibility for the attacks. He was arrested in April 2019 and immediately pleaded guilty to 16 counts of terrorism.