The Supreme Court in Burundi has sentenced former head of state Pierre Buyoya and 18 high-ranking officers and state personnel to life in prison over the 1993 assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye and the massacres that followed. Buyoya and his colleagues were found guilty of the murder that triggered a civil war in which more than 300,000 people died and 470,000 became refugees. The 70-year-old currently serves as the African Union’s High Representative for Mali and the Sahel. The court ordered the sentenced officials to pay $53 million in compensation to the families of those killed. Most of those who stood trial were sentenced in absentia because they are either refugees or working for foreign organizations. Buyoya, who had been in power since 1987, lost elections in June 1993 to Ndadaye, who became the first democratically elected president in Burundi’s history. Ndadaye was killed just three months after he was sworn in, along with his ministers, the national assembly speaker and deputy speakers, governors and many other officials.