- Édouard Karemera and Matthieu Ngirumpatse were ruling party members and Hutus
- The men organized a criminal enterprise which recruited militia and death squad members
- Some 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were killed in the three-month bloodletting
Two key organizers of Rwanda's 1994 genocide were sentenced by a United Nations tribunal to life in prison Wednesday for their role in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, a U.N. statement said.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found Édouard Karemera, the country's former interior minister, and Matthieu Ngirumpatse, a former minister of justice and secretary general, guilty of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity, rape and sexual assault as crimes against humanity, and murder as causing violence to health and physical or mental well-being.
The ICTR ruled that the men organized a criminal enterprise which recruited militia and death squad members as well as provided logistics and weapons.
During the 1990s, Hutu extremists within Rwanda's political elite used propaganda and recalled past oppressive Tutsi rule and also blamed the Tusis for the country's social and economic troubles.
The Rwandan genocide ultimately was triggered by the April 6, 1994, shooting down of a plane carrying the nation's Hutu president.
Ethnic violence erupted and Tutsis were killed systematically by Hutus over the course of three months.
The United Nations estimates that some 200,000 people participated in the perpetration of the Rwandan genocide.
In all, some 800,000 men, women, and children -- mostly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus -- died.
The U.N. Security Council created the tribunal for the prosecution of those responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in Rwanda.