ARUSHA, Tanzania (AP) – A U.N. appeal court on Friday upheld the conviction of a former Rwandan government minister for genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the 1994 genocide.

Former Information Minister Eliezer Niyitegeka – who was challenging his May 15, 2003 conviction – will spend the rest of his life in jail with no chance of parole, Judge Theodor Meron said.

More than 500,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in the 100-day slaughter that was orchestrated by the then-extremist Hutu government.

Niyitegeka was alleged to have participated in public rallies during which he made speeches that instigated and provoked ethnic hatred toward Tutsis. His indictment also alleged that he knew his subordinates were planning to commit nationwide massacres but he did nothing to prevent the killings.

Niyitegeka had raised 53 grounds to challenge the conviction. Among others, he had argued that the trial was undermined by the involvement of prosecutor Melinda Pollard who was suspended from practice in her home jurisdiction, in New York, at the time.

Meron ruled that Niyitegeka failed to establish that Pollard’s “past professional conduct in the state of New York or her alleged untimely disclosure that her license to practice law in New York had been suspended has undermined the integrity of the … trial or deprived him of the right to the fair trial.”

Niyitegeka had challenged the findings of the trial court that he killed an old man and a young boy on 18 June 1994.

“Review of the trial transcript reveals that the appellant did not object to this evidence when it was introduced,” Meron said.

The appeals chamber also rejected Niyitegeka’s argument that the trial court was wrong to hand down the maximum sentence.

“Having reviewed the appellant’s arguments, the appeals chamber concludes that appellant has not shown that the trial chamber’s decision exceeded the discretion conferred upon it in matters of sentencing,” Meron said.

Some 22 genocide suspect are on trial at the U.N. tribunal. The court has already concluded trials of 22 other suspects, including three it found innocent. Nine appeals are in progress.

AP-ES-07-09-04 0718EDT

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