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Arusha, December 22 2006 (FH) – The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has officially appealed the 15-year imprisonment sentence against Father Seromba. This appeal also concerns the rest of the verdict issued on December 13th, the communiqué released this Friday stipulates. The chamber had then judged that of the four charges Seromba faced (genocide, complicity in genocide, concerted planning of genocide and crimes against humanity), only two could be retained, that of genocide and crimes against humanity. This trial, the first of a Roman Catholic priest, had opened in September 2004. The prosecutor had called for life imprisonment which is the maximum sentence the ICTR can issue, notably for genocide, considered at the ICTR as « the ultimate crime ». Seromba had pleaded not guilty to all count; his attorney had called for the discharge of his client. As for extenuating circumstances, the chamber notably acknowledged the fact that the priest turned himself in to the authorities. He had until then been exercising his priesthood under a false identity a parish in Tuscany, Italy. An arrest warrant had been issued against him and eventually an association of victims managed to trace him there. His age, 43 years old, and the resulting possibilities of rehabilitation, also worked in his favor. After the rendering of the verdict, Sylvana Arbia, the lead prosecutor, declared that « it doesn’t correspond to the evidences which have been presented ». The Rwandan delegate at the ICTR, Aloys Mutabingwa, had found the sentence too lenient. « The judges have abused their discretionary power », he commented. The Rwandan association African Rights, which had denounced Seromba’s crimes, considers it a « denial of justice ». The First chamber was presided over by Mrs. Andresia Vaz (Senegal), now at the head of the Appeals Chamber. She was assisted by Karin Hokborg (Sweden) and Gberdao Gustave Kam (Burkina). The priest was represented by Mr. Patrice Monthé (Sénégal). Because the chamber had denied Seromba’s request to appear after all his defense witnesses, the trial had been closed before the defendant could testify. PB/MG © Hirondelle News Agency