Friday, July 27, 2007

Catholic priest arrested on tribunal charges of genocide in Rwanda

A former government administrator and a Catholic priest sought for their alleged roles in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda were arrested June 20 in France.

Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka was stationed at the Sainte-Famille Parish in Kigali, Rwanda. 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.

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 northeastern 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 tribunal would like them to be tried in France. 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.

The Rwandan government accuses France 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 Father Munyeshyaka.

According to the Catholic missionary news agency MISNA, the justice minister stressed that Father 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."

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