Burundi Supreme Court has sentenced 70-year-old former president Pierre Buyoya to life in prison for involvement in the murder of his successor. The murder sparked a brutal and long-lasting civil war between the ethnic Hutus and Tutsis
Buyoya led the country twice: from 1987 to 1993 and from 1996 to 2003. Both times he seized power with the help of the military. He is currently the African Union’s envoy for the Sahel region.
The former leader is said to have had a hand in the murder of his successor Melchior Ndadaye, who was murdered shortly after the 1993 elections. Then a war broke out between Hutus and Tutsis that killed 300,000 people and lasted ten years.
Buyoya did not appear at the trial and was sentenced in absentia along with 15 others. He calls the allegations politically motivated. According to him, the current government is ripping up old wounds to win votes.
After the civil war, Buyoya took part in the peace negotiations. The former leader says that the blood feud over the murder has been settled in this reconciliation process. There is still much uncertainty surrounding the death of Ndadaye, who was the country’s first democratically elected president. He is seen as a national hero.