Arusha, May 2, 2001 (FH) Former Rwandan bishop Samuel Musabyimana on Wednesday pleaded not-guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and complained that he had been subjected to "brutalities" during his arrest last week in Kenya. "My arrest was made by individuals who did not want to be identified and who didn't show the warrant for arrest or indicate to me for the account of whom they acted," said Musabyimana, who appeared before the court in pink bishop's robes and wearing a large gold cross around his neck.

2 min 25Approximate reading time

"My residence was violated, searched and family belongings, including the identity papers of visitors, were taken away. My office was ransacked, all equipment, all files were taken without an inventory. " The arrest was conducted by Kenyan police in the presence of ICTR officials. Duty counsel for the accused Bharat Chadha of Tanzania also protested that ICTR Rules had been violated during the arrest. Musabyimana's lawyer in Kenya, Ojwang Agina, complained last week to the Nairobi High Court that the arrest was illegal, saying that procedures were violated, his client was only shown the charges after arriving in Arusha, and that he himself was manhandled and denied access to Musabyimana. Agina says he is available to represent the accused at the ICTR. Presiding judge William Sekule of Tanzania, sitting alone on the bench, told the accused and his duty counsel Chadha that the initial appearance was not the right place to raise the matter, and that it could be addressed in a pre-trial motion. He told the lawyer, however, that "we note from you and the accused person that there are some complaints regarding the manner of the arrest". Musabyimana is charged with genocide or alternatively complicity in genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide; and extermination as a crime against humanity. During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, he was bishop of the Shyogwe diocese in the central Gitarama prefecture. The Prosecutor alleges that he ordered refugees who fled to his diocese to be registered according to their ethnic group, and that soldiers and militia used these lists, with his knowledge, to single out Tutsi refugees and take them to their deaths. Musabyimana's indictment alleges that he held meetings with the Rwandan interim government in place during the genocide, and that he carried out missions abroad on behalf of that government. It also says that he paid Interahamwe militia who were killing Tutsis. Musabyimana told the court that the charges against him were very serious, but protested they were unjust. He said he wished to protest his innocence to the Christian community and his colleagues in the Anglican church, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. "They should be assured that there is no blood on my hands," he said. "My conscience is quiet. "The accused then referred to the case of catholic bishop Augustin Misago, who was tried for genocide, acquitted by a Rwandan court but appears on Kigali's latest list of "Category One" top genocide suspects. At this point, Judge Sekule intervened, telling Musabyimana: "Don't go into issues that do not concern your case. This is not a political platform. "The ex-bishop was nevertheless able to continue speaking to denounce what he called "the evil and the lie" which would be overcome "in the name of Jesus Christ". "In conclusion," Musabyimana declared, "I would reiterate my profound thought and prayer for all victims of the Rwandan Tragedy. I pray for all Rwandans imprisoned and accused of all kinds of crimes, in Rwanda, in Belgium, even here in Arusha and elsewhere. I say to them no matter what, Christ does not abandon us, he is here at our sides. "The ex-bishop is the second churchman to be arrested by the ICTR after Seventh Day Adventist Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, who headed the Mugonero church in Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda. JC/MBR/FH (MS0502e)