Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 69, a former women’s minister, was found guilty in June 2011 on genocide charges for atrocities committed in Rwanda’s southern Butare region. She has been in custody since July 1997.
“The appeals chamber… reduces to 47 years imprisonment the life sentence imposed on Pauline Nyiramasuhuko by the trial chamber,” the ruling read, saying it was cut due to the long time it took to bring her to trial.
Her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, who at the time of the genocide led militia groups in Butare, was initially sentenced to life for crimes including genocide, extermination and rape as a crime against humanity, also had his sentence cut to 47 years.
Ex-mayor Elie Ndayambaje also had his life sentence cut to 47 years, while another former mayor Alphonse Nteziryayo had his sentence cut from 30 to 20 years.
Two other convicts were ordered to be released after their sentences were cut.
Former Butare mayor Sylvain Nsabimana had his sentence reduced from 25 to 18 years, while former Ngoma mayor Joseph Kanyabashi has his time cut from 35 to 20 years, time they have both already served.
The sentence reductions were the last acts of the international tribunal trying Rwanda’s worst genocide cases, which now closes after more than two decades of work.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, was set up in 1994 by the UN to try those responsible for the genocide.
Around 800 000 people – mostly members of the minority Tutsi community – were slaughtered in a 100-day orgy of violence, largely by ethnic Hutus.