Arusha, November 1, 2001 (FH) - The church in Rwanda was only next to the government in the preparation and execution of the 1994 genocide, an expert witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday. Canadian journalist Hugh McCullum was testifying in the genocide trial of Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son Gerald Ntakirutimana.

2 minApproximate reading time

"The church in Rwanda is the most responsible institution for the genocide only second to the government," McCullum told the court. McCullum based most of his expert report on the Roman Catholic and the Anglican Churches. Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana is being jointly tried with his son Gerald Ntakirutimana. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Elizaphan was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church at Mugonero in Kibuye, western Rwanda. Gerald was a medical doctor at the infirmary which lay in the same complex. The two are charged with five counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Despite having been in Rwanda most of the period of the genocide, McCullum conceded under cross-examination that he had neither been to Kibuye nor interviewed any Seventh Day Adventists there. Defence counsel for Pastor Ntakirutimana, former US attorney Ramsey Clark suggested that McCullum's testimony was lacking in knowledge of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. "I don't think the church led to the genocide," Clark told McCullim. "I think you have a terrible hatred of the church. "McCullum said that despite not having acquired profound information on the Seventh Day Adventist church in particular, he was convinced of a strong similarity in the "general pattern of behaviour" between the different churches in Rwanda. McCullum said that Christian missionaries from Europe had brought to Rwanda racist ideologies that split Rwandans along Hutu-Tutsi lines. He further said that the church in Rwanda had a "profound" relationship with state authorities. "The church did not object to racist programmes of the authorities," McCullum said. He said that the church had instead furthered division among the Rwandans. "During the genocide", said McCullum, "many Tutsis were lured into churches by their pastors and priests only to be handed over to the killers. "The Prosecutor accuses Pastor Ntakirutimana, among other things, of luring Tutsi refugees into Mugonero church complex during the genocide and later bringing in extremist Hutu militias and soldiers to kill them. McCullum further said that the church had until now generally refused to acknowledge its role. "Church leaders have since and during the genocide showed no repentance, no remorse, have not asked for forgiveness and have in many cases justified the genocide," he said. McCullum is the author of a book on the Rwandan genocide entitled "The angels have left us; The Rwandan tragedy and the church", and of various reports for the World Council of Churches. He is a journalist trainer for the Zimbabwe-based Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC). McCullum is the 18th prosecution witness in this trial. One more witness is set to testify before the prosecution closes its case. The case is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Erik Mose of Norway (presiding), Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and Andrésia Vaz of Senegal. GG/FH/PHD/FH (NK1101E)