Arusha, 18 July 2007 (FH) - Father Emmanuel Rukundo did not participate in the massacres of Tutsis in Kabgayi (central Rwanda), indicated a convict Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).  

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The witness, who cleared the priest of these allegations, is one of the authors of these crimes committed between April and June 1994 and pleaded guilty before a Rwandan court.

He recounted the attacks against Tutsis that had taken refuge in various places in Kabgayi and gave details on their authors. The Prosecutor has implicated Rukundo in these slaughters. He has pleaded not guilty.

The witness declared that he had closely followed information concerning the attacks in Kabgayi in 1994 as well as afterwards and that at no time was Rukundo ever one of those who had taken part in it.

"We exchanged information on what was done in Kabgayi. All things considered we spoke about all that occurred during the massacres. We never spoke about the individual whom you named ", the witness answered Rukundo's lawyer, Aicha Conde (France).

"There was no secrecy during the events. The attackers went to all the places. They believed that they were accomplishing acts of bravery. And they believed that they were going to be rewarded", he added.

To the question of knowing if he had learnt that an unspecified priest had joined the killers, the witness indicated: "at the time of our meetings, we said that priests were accomplices. If we had seen a priest, we would have killed him".

He also stated that in prison, he had been charged to collect information in connection with the massacres of Kabgayi about his fellow detainees. Nobody among them accused Emmanuel Rukundo, he affirmed.

On trial since 15 November 2006, Rukundo has been presenting his defence since last week.

Three other priests were also indicted by the ICTR.


© Hirondelle News Agency