Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Former State Official And a Priest Arrested Over Genocide

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi) NEWS

24 July 2007 Posted to the web 24 July 2007

A former government administrator and a Catholic priest sought for their alleged roles in the 1994 genocide were arrested Friday in France.

The prefect of Gikongoro in southern Rwanda in 1994, Laurent Bucyibaruta, is accused of massacres of Tutsis in his prefecture. He lived in Aube in North-Eastern France.

Fr Wenceslas Munyeshyaka was, for his part, priest at the Sainte-Famille Parish in Kigali. The prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Arusha, Tanzania, alleges that he took part in the massacres of refugees in his parish and also committed rape. He has been residing in northern France.

According to Hirondelle News Agency, the two men were indicted by the ICTR in 2005 but it was only last month that their indictments were revealed.

The ICTR Prosecutor would like them to be tried in France. The ICTR president, Dennis Byron, recently designated a chamber to examine this motion filed by the prosecutor.

But the Rwandan government and associations of survivors have declared that they will not cooperate with French courts if the two men are tried in France.

Kigali accuses Paris of having played a part in the genocide of Tutsis by politically and militarily supporting the former Hutu regime. Rwanda broke off diplomatic ties with France in November 2006 after a French investigating judge issued arrest warrants against persons close to current President Paul Kagame.

The Rwandese Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said "the best solution for us would be to see him sent back to Rwanda to serve his sentence", referring to Fr Munyeshyaka.

According to the Catholic missionary news agency MISNA, the justice minister stressed that Fr Munyeshyaka had been sentenced to a life jail term in absentia by a Rwandese court last year. The minister defined the arrest of the priest "as a step we appreciate, though too late".

Copyright © 2007 Catholic Information Service for Africa. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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