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Archive for Saturday, April 7, 2007

Ex-Rwandan president pardoned, freed from jail

April 7, 2007

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— Rwanda's first post-genocide leader walked free from prison Friday after a surprise presidential pardon of his convictions that included inciting ethnic tension.

Pasteur Bizimungu was freed after serving two years of a 15-year term as an act of clemency by President Paul Kagame to build national unity, an official said. His release came on the 13th anniversary of the start of the 1994 genocide in which 500,000 were killed.

Bizimungu was convicted in 2004 for treason, threatening national security, corruption and encouraging ethnic divisions.

A member of Rwanda's Hutu majority, Bizimungu became president in 1994 after Tutsi-led rebels ended the genocide and set up a government of national unity.

He resigned in March 2000 after disagreements with Kagame over the prosecution of ministers accused of corruption and mismanagement. He was arrested in 2002, and in 2004 was sentenced by Rwanda's High Court to prison.

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