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UNITED NATIONS: A United Nations court has ordered Niger to suspend its expulsion of eight Rwandans linked to the country's 1994 genocide, officials confirmed Monday.

Niger's government announced the expulsions in late December -- just a month after the Rwandans were officially welcomed in the capital Niamey -- citing "diplomatic reasons".

But a judge with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals on Friday ordered Niger "stay" the removals as they may be in violation of earlier UN agreements.

A UN spokesperson in New York confirmed the official publication of the court order to AFP on Monday.

The Rwandans' lawyers had argued that Niger had committed to host the group, after they answered before the international criminal tribunal for their roles in the genocide.

Of the eight people in the group, four were convicted of crimes during the genocide by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and have served their sentences.

The other four were acquitted by the ICTR.

A Rwandan umbrella group of genocide survivor organizations had welcomed the expulsions.

Around 800,000 people died between April and July 1994 in Rwanda as the extremist Hutu regime tried to wipe out the Tutsi minority, causing one of the 20th century's biggest massacres.

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