15.06.07 - RWANDA/BELGIUM - RELEASE OF ONE OF THE TWO RWANDAN NUNS CONVICTED IN BELGIUM

  Brussels, 15 June 2007 (FH) - A Rwandan nun convicted in 2001 by Belgian courts to 12 years in prison for her participation in the 1994 Rwandan genocide will be released after having served half of her sentence.   
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The Court of sentence applications of Mons accepted on Wednesday the request for the release of Sister Maria Kisito, 41, sentenced on 8 June 2001 to 12 years of prison by the Crown Court of Brussels, declared her lawyer Gilles Vanderbeck.
 
This decision was criticized by Ibuka, the collective of survivor associations of the genocide in Rwanda. "It was thus only an illusion of punishment. One cannot be entitled to good behavior after having committed the most serious of crimes ", stated on Radio Rwanda, the president of Ibuka, Théodoroe Simburudali.
 
Julienne Mukabutera, her given name, will be assigned to residence in the Abbey of Maredret, in the Belgian Ardennes. She was detained since her judgment in Namur, in the south of Belgium.
 
According to Vanderbeck, this house arrest is a compromise in front of the impossibility of carrying out a true release on parole, in which case she should either have obtained the status of refugee in Belgium, or found a host country. "The distance is not conceivable because she risks, in this country, inhuman and degrading treatments, and no third country is ready to accept her. In addition an exclusion clause of the Conventions of Geneva does not enable her to apply for the status of refugee ", explained Vanderbeck to the Hirondelle agency.
 
The Benedictine nun Maria Kisito and her superior Consolata Mukangango (Sister Gertrude) were accused to have delivered to the militia extremists, in April 1994, refugees in their convent of Sovu, close to Butare in the south of Rwanda. Several thousands of them were massacred.
 
Having taken refuge in Belgium, after the genocide, in the Benedictine Abbey of Maredret, they had been tried in 2001 in a historic trial, the first application of the Belgian law known as of "universal jurisdiction". This law allowed Belgium, before a revision in August 2003, to indict authors of infringements to international humanitarian law, notwithstanding their nationality and the place that the crimes were committed.
 
The two nuns had been sentenced respectively to 12 and 15 years in prison. Two other accused in this trial, known as the "Four of Butare", were also convicted: the academic Vincent Ntezimana and the former Minister Alphonse Higaniro, to 12 and 20 years of prison. Vincent Ntezimana was released in 2006.
 
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