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Burundi court sentences 11 people to death for taking part in 1993 massacres

 A court has sentenced 11 people to death and 16 others to life imprisonment for taking part in massacres that followed the 1993 assassination of Burundi's 1st democratically elected leader, the justice minister said Friday. The criminal court in Gitega, 70 kilometres east of the capital, Bujumbura, handed down the sentences on Thursday, said Dwima Bakana.

 The death penalty in Burundi is carried out by hanging. The last time it was implemented was in 1995.

 The 8 1/2-year civil war in Burundi broke out after Tutsi paratroopers assassinated the President Melchior Ndadaye, a member of the Hutu majority. Ndadaye's death sparked a cycle of killings with Hutus attacking Tutsis and the Tutsi-dominated army carrying out reprisal attacks on Hutu civilians.

 More than 200,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed during the civil war.

 A transitional government was inaugurated in November after President Pierre Buyoya's government, 17 political parties and the National Assembly signed a power-sharing agreement last August; but fighting has continued.