Arusha, February 7, 2002 (FH) - Rwandan priest Athanase Seromba on Wednesday traveled to Tanzania and surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which wants him for genocide. He was immediately taken to the UN prison in Arusha, reports the independent news agency Hirondelle.

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A statement from the Italian Diocese of Florence, where he has been living, said the priest's decision to give himself up came from a desire to "shed light on the grave accusations against him, which he learned only through the press". The statement, as quoted by French news agency AFP, said the priest wanted to prove his innocence. In particular, Father Seromba is accused of massacring Tutsis in the Nyange Catholic church in Kibuye, western Rwanda. Human rights groups have claimed that two thousand Tutsis were killed there in 1994, crushed to death by bulldozers. Father Seromba took refuge in Italy in 1997. ICTR Prosecutor Carla del Ponte of Switzerland tried to get him arrested there on July 12, 2001, but Italy did not cooperate. Rome argued that it must first change its laws to permit the arrest. AT/SW/JC (SB-0207e)