A French court has sentenced two former Rwandan mayors to life in prison for playing leading roles in the mass killing of ethnic Tutsis during the first days of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

A Paris jury found Tito Barahira, 65, and Octavien Ngenzi, 58, guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity Wednesday over the massacre of some 2,000 Tutsis who had sought refuge in a church in the eastern town of Kabarondo.

The prosecutor described the two men as "monsters," saying they were essential pieces in the local genocidal machine.

Dozens of survivors, relatives and witnesses, many of whom traveled from Rwanda, testified during the two-month trial. One survivor told the court she lost her seven children in the slaughter.

Both defendants denied any involvement in the murders.