The Swedish Court of Appeal has sentenced to life in prison Claver Berinkindi 61, a Rwandan with Swedish citizenship for Genocide crimes he committed during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.
Berinkindi, a father of five was sentenced by Stockholm District Court in May 2016.
It was established that Berinkindi that was an influential businessman mobilised people to participate in the killing of thousands of civilians. He also participated in five massacres between April 18 and May 31, 1994 in Nkuri and Nyamiyaga communes in former Butare Prefecture, currently in Southern Province, Nyanza district. Most of the victims had sought refuge in commune’s office.
A member of Interahamwe militia, Berinkindi directly took part in killings using machetes, spears and clubs, according to Tora Holst, Swedish Chief Prosecutor.
In Berinkindi’s area, something more horrible happened during the Genocide. On April 21, 1994, the Interahamwe went door-to-door, killing all men and rounded up all women and took them to a nearby church, or at Ibambiro.
Two days later, the church was filled to capacity, with over 445 women, elderly and young women, from the surrounding villages of Kumuyira, Mbuye, Murinja and Nyakibungo.
The place was tightly guarded. Food and water was provided, and the militias reassured the women of safety.
They were told that only men, who were being killed, were the Inyenzi (cockroaches) and had to be killed. And all men in the villages had been massacred in about ten days.
On the night of May 3, recalls Judith Uwingabire one of the only five survivors who was then 36, a group of about 50 men, with machetes and other crude weapons surrounded the locked church to finish them right away.
In a previous hearing at Stockholm District Court, it was ruled that 15 people be awarded damages ranging from $3,900 to $13,000, to be taken from Berinkindi’s property, which has been valued at roughly $148,000, according to The New York Times.
A case among many
Berinkindi’s case in Sweden comes after several others whose ruling, in some instances was not good, according to Genocide survivors’ association.
As a matter of example, in October 2016, Police in Sweden arrested Ben Curtis 48, resident of Örebro County a Swedish national who is alleged to have committed the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.
In 2008, Sylvère Ahorugeze who was Director of the Rwandan Civil Aviation Authority and of Kigali International Airport until 1994 was arrested in the Stockholm suburb of Solna (Sweden).
The arrest came after a prosecutor in Denmark dropped a case where Ahorugeze was accused of having killed 25 Tutsi in Kigali.
Rwanda filed an extradition request against Ahorugeze and courts ruled in favor of his extradition. Ahorugeze filed several appeals up to the European Court on Human Rights.
The latter delayed its ruling until the Supreme Court in Sweden decided to release him in 2011.
Ahorugeze safely returned to Denmark where he lives with his family.
First Genocide perpetrator to be convicted over genocide crimes in Sweden would be Stanislas Mbanenande who was sentenced to life in prison by Stockholm court in 2013.
Berinkindi left Rwanda during the genocide and went to Sweden from the Central African Republic in 2002, applying for refugee status. He was unemployed and living in the town of Eskilstuna, west of Stockholm, when he was arrested in 2014 on suspicion of genocide and other violations of international law.