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Arusha, January 23 2007 (FH) – The Adventist Church minister, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, released on December 7th by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) after he had completed his 10 year prison term, died in the night of Monday to Tuesday, an official source has reported on Tuesday. According to the ICTR’s spokesperson, Everard O’Donnell, the minister passed away in a hospital of Arusha. The ICTR is waiting for « instructions » from the deceased’s family, he added. Ntakirutimana, 82, had been the first condemned of the ICTR to be liberated at the end of his prison term. After his release, the old man, exhausted, had briefly called on the Rwandan population to « not make false allegations against innocents, like him ».

He had been condemned on March 19 2003 to ten years of imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity. The verdict had been confirmed in appeal. The minister had been captured on September 29 in the United States and transferred to Arusha on March 24 200 at the conclusion of a long judicial battle against extradition. In 1994, he was at the head of the Mugonero Adventist Church complex located in the region of Kibuye (west) which comprised a church, a hospital and a secondary school. Thousands of Tutsis died there in the month of April 1994. The minister, who had pleaded not guilty, had been judged alongside his son, Gérard Ntakirutimana who worked as a doctor at the hospital of Mugonero and who was condemned to 25 years of imprisonment. ER/PB © Hirondelle News Agency