ARUSHA, Tanzania – A U.N. court sentenced a former pop star to 15 years in prison on Tuesday for his part in inciting Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
Presiding Judge Monica Weinberg de Roca said Tuesday that Simon Bikindi used a public address system to tell Hutus to exterminate Tutsi "snakes" and wrote hate-filled propaganda in his lyrics.
"You have abused your stature as a well-known and popular artist ... and an important figure in the Interahamwe movement by using your influence to incite genocide," she said. The Interahamwe were militants from the Hutu ethnic majority.
The singer will get credit for seven years already served in prison.
In 1994, more than 500,000 people were killed in 100 days after Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane was mysteriously shot down over Kigali as he returned home from peace talks with Tutsi-led rebels.
Hours after the crash, the Interahamwe set up roadblocks across Kigali and the next day began killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
They often used radio as a means of urging Hutu civilians to kill their Tutsi neighbors and direct the slaughter. Bikindi's songs called on Hutus to remember the suffering under the Tutsi monarchy and urged Hutus to remain united against the "Tutsi enemy."
The Tanzania-based war crimes tribunal has convicted 32 people and acquitted five since it was set up in 1994. Two more judgments are expected by the end of the year.