22.06.07 - ICTR/NSENGIMANA - OPENING OF THE TRIAL OF ABBOT HORMISDAS NSENGIMANA

Arusha, 22 June 2007 (FH) - The trial of Hormisdas Nsengimana, a catholic priest accused of genocide, murder and extermination, began Friday before of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (TPIR), noted the Hirondelle agency.
1 min 28Approximate reading time

The priest, 53, was during the 1994 genocide, vice-chancellor of the
Christ King College of Nyanza, in southern Rwanda.

In his preliminary statement, the new chief of prosecutions, Italian
Silvana Arbia, indicated that the man of the church had put his knowledge
and his gifts at the service of a criminal enterprise aiming at
exterminating Tutsis. He described the defendant as a Hutu extremist who,
even before the genocide, did not hide his hatred of Tutsis, starting with
those of his school: pupils, priests and other employees.

According to Mrs. Arbia, the defendant stated, after the start of the
genocide, that the "time is over where churches are to be used as refuge
for Tutsis".

The representative of the prosecutor supported that the priest was the
spiritual leader of a group called "the Dragons" or "the Death squad",
whose members were quite active during the genocide in the area of Nyanza.

According to this preliminary statement, the abbot not only ordered
massacres but, himself, killed an old priest Tutsi, Mathieu Ngirumpatse,
and several Tutsi women.

"When my rifle kills five people, I feel rested", would have delightfully
declared the defendant as he killed the old abbot who was an intendant of
the college, according to Arbia.

Promising to prove the guilt of Nsengimana "beyond any reasonable doubt",
the chief of prosecutions announced 24 witnesses, among whom "members of
the Rwandan clergy", "accomplices" of the defendant, victims, alumni of
the priest and experts.

"Father Nsengimana rejects all these allegations; he did not hurt anyone;
we hope that this trial will be used to restore his honor ", answered very
laconically hi co-council, Briton David Hooper, standing beside the
defendant recognizable by his priest's collar. The principal council,
Frenchman Emmanuel Altit, was not present.

The prosecution then called its first witness, an investigator of the
prosecutor. For the period which goes until next weekend, 5 witnesses in
all are planned, for the majority in closed session.

So far, the ICTR has indicted 4 catholic priests, of which one, Wenceslas
Munyeshyaka, is exiled in France.

ER/PB/MM

© Hirondelle News Agency