This file photo taken on April 19, 2012 in Kigali shows Jean Bosco Uwinkindi arriving to a UN-backed tribunal for the 1994 Rwandan genocides (Photo: AFP)
A Rwandan court has sentenced a former pentecostal pastor to life in prison for leading a massacre of people sheltering in his church during the 1994 genocide, reports said Thursday.
Jean Uwinkindi, 64, was found guilty in Kigali's High Court of "genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity" during the 100-day massacre that began in April 1994 and left 800,000 dead.
"The court rules that Uwinkindi is guilty of murder as a crime of genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity, he must therefore be punished with life imprisonment," Judge Timothee Kanyegeri said in his ruling on Wednesday, according to Kigali's New Times newspaper.
Uwinkindi, who was transferred back to Rwanda to be put on trial from a UN-backed court in Tanzania, pleaded not guilty and said he will appeal the verdict.
"I want it recorded that I appeal," he said.
The prosecution said that between 100 and 150 ethnic Tutsi Rwandans had sought shelter at Uwinkindi's church at Kayenzi, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of Kigali.
"The court finds that there were killings of the Tutsi at Rwankeri and Kanzenze hills and the attacks were led by Uwinkindi," Kanyegeri added.
After Uwinkindi was arrested in Uganda in 2010, he was first sent to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania, before being handed back to face justice in Rwanda in April 2012. The ICTR has since closed.