A Belgian court today found two Rwandan nuns guilty of war crimes in the African nation's 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered.
The jury convicted the Roman Catholic nuns, Sisters Gertrude and Maria, of most of the counts of homicide against them. They were charged with helping Hutu extremists kill more than 5,000 people at their convent.
In the landmark ruling--the first time a civilian jury in one country has judged suspected war criminals from another nation--the 12-member jury also delivered guilty verdicts against two other defendants, college professor Vincent Ntezimana and factory owner Alphonse Higaniro.
A 1993 Belgian law gives Belgian courts jurisdiction over violations of the Geneva Convention on war crimes, no matter where they were committed.
Meanwhile, a U.N. court investigating the 1994 genocide delivered its first "not guilty" verdict Thursday, acquitting a former mayor of involvement in the massacre.
Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, acquitted Ignace Bagilishema of nine counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Bagilishema was mayor of Mabanza in Kibuye province in western Rwanda during the genocide.
The tribunal's three judges were unanimous in their decision on eight of the charges. Two out of three found him not guilty on the charge of complicity in the genocide.
The prosecution alleged that Bagilishema, 46, knowingly sent thousands of Tutsi refugees to Kibuye, where there were arrangements to have them killed.