Kigali, 27 July 2007 (FH) - Opinions are divided in Kigali a week after the arrest in France of Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, former priest of the parish of the Sainte-Famille (Holy Family) in the Rwandan capital.

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Munyeshyaka was arrested last Friday at the same time as the former prefect of Gikongoro (southern Rwanda), Laurent Bucyibaruta, at the request of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). He accuses them of genocide and crimes against humanity.

The ICTR Prosecutor would like Munyeshyaka and Bucyibaruta be tried in France on the basis of an indictment which he established against them.

In the spheres of Ibuka (Remember), the umbrella of the associations of genocide survivors, this proposal is not a crowd pleasure.

The two men had already been investigated in France for complicity in genocide and later put on probation.

Settled in France since 1995, Munyeshyaka had been entrusted in 1997 with a ministry in Andelys (the Eure). Since 2001, he has been a priest for the parishes of Gisors and the Vallée de l'Epte.

"It has been more than ten years that Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka has been in France. As a priest! In the past he has been under a fake investigation and cleared. Today, the ICTR insists that France arrests him. French courts, we do not have any confidence at all for them to try such a case!", stated an indignant Kayitare, head of the justice department within IBUKA.

"From one day to another, you may face justice yourself, and all of a sudden you are asked to try the criminal acts for which you are one of the sponsors. That is France and Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka!", added anonymously another leader of Ibuka.

France is accused by the current Rwandan government of having armed the former government and the Hutu militias responsible for the genocide of Tutsis. France has always rejected these allegations.

In November 2006, a military court in Kigali sentenced Munyeshyaka, in absentia, to life in prison. He was accused along with Major General Laurent Munyakazi, who also received the same sentence.

"It is in Rwanda that Wenceslas Munyeshyaka should serve his sentence", declared Kayitare.

As for Ange, a young woman survivor of the massacres at Sainte-Famille, initially she did not reproach anything against the abbot who evacuated her to a safer place, the Hotel des Mille Collines during the genocide. "But if he has wronged, he must answer to justice", she added.

A man who was working at Sainte Famille in 1994, Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, "the youth, the hot blooded", as he was often called, is a victim of reprisals on behalf of the ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), of which he said that it is the cause of problems in Rwanda. "It is justice which will rehabilitate him", he declared.

The official position of the church is that those among its ministers who wronged must have the courage to face justice. But it is not rare to hear allegations to persecute the church when a clergyman is accused.

"For Munyeshyaka, we keep quiet. But everyone knows what the other thinks. The Church is one and plural ", confessed a priest from Kigali.

© Hirondelle News Agency