A United Nations court for Rwanda presided by judge William Hussein Sekule on Friday sentenced former top Rwandan government official Pauline Nyiramasuhuko to life imprisonment for genocide and incitement to rape charges, making her the first woman to be convicted by the international court.

Nyiramasuhuko was minister for the Rwandan government’s family and women’s affairs when the 1994 massacre took place that killed hundreds of thousands ethnic Tutsis. Her trial began in 2001 and was charged along with her son and four other former government officials.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) accused her of directly inciting the public to commit genocide as well as being responsible for ordering rape to be part of a systematic attack against the civilian Tutsi population. Prosecutors of ICTR also accused her of direct involvement in government decision making to create militias all over Rwanda. These militias’ mission was to eradicate the entire Tutsi population as swiftly as possible.

Nyiramasuhuko ordered the massacres in her home district of Butare in south of the country. From April to June 1994, hundreds of Tutsis living in Butare were rounded up by members of the militia forces and many of them were subjected to rape and physical assault, the court declared.

Some of the brutalities were committed by her son, who was just in his early 20s during that time but was already a militia leader. Butare used to be an area where Hutus and Tutsis lived alongside each other and many Hutus actually resisted in carrying out the massacre orders.

The four other local officials co-accused with Nyiramasuhuko and her son were handed jail sentences that ranged from 25 years to life imprisonment. Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, Nyiramasuhuko’s son, was likewise sentenced to life in prison.

When the massacres ended, Nyiramasuhuko fled the country to neighboring Zaire, which is the present day Democratic Republic of Congo. She was later arrested in Kenya in 1997. She was then held in custody to the UN court in Arusha, Tanzania awaiting her trial. The court found her guilty of seven of the counts she faced.

Rwandan president Paul Kagame, who helped put an end to the genocide, has expressed his dissatisfaction about the slow pace of the cases in the tribunal. For Nyiramasuhuko’s trial, the ICTR admitted that it was a lengthy and complex case which involved over 13,000 pages of documents and 189 witnesses.

In 2001, two Catholic nuns were found guilty by an international court in Belgium for genocide charges. In 2006, another Catholic nun was handed a 30-year prison term by a Rwandan court for her involvement in the killings. Just last month, a former top Rwandan military official and three other army officers were finally convicted for their crimes after a grueling 9-year trial.

The Rwandan genocide began after the country’s Hutu president was killed when his plane was gunned down in April 1994. An estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate-minded Hutus died during the 1994 massacres.