Arusha, 8 October 2007 (FH) - Abbot Emmanuel Rukundo who testified on his own behalf before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) stated Monday that he was not interested by the military chaplaincy, a post to which he was nominated in February 1993.   

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"I did not see myself as a military chaplain", declared the clergyman indicating that he accepted this "ministry" out if an "obligation of obedience". He experienced, he explained, "resentment" towards the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) because, he said, they had killed members of his family at the time of the July 1973 coup, which brought President Juvénal Habyarimana to power.
"The Rwandan Armed Forces were regarded as a regional army with the majority of the members coming from a few northern communes", the priest who is originally from Gitarama, in the central Rwanda, continued.
He added that he was unaware of the reasons for which his superiors had chosen him for the chaplaincy. "I do not know why the bishop chose me. I was neither the most robust, nor the most intelligent ", indicated the clergyman accused of genocide, extermination and assassination.
According to the testimonies of the prosecution, he would have been designated to this function because he was an extremist.
Rukundo is in detention with two other catholic priests, Athanase Seromba and Hormisdas Nsengimana.
This latter is still on trial, like Rukundo; while Seromba was sentenced in first instance to 15 years in prison.
The highest ranking ecclesiastical person ever arrested by the ICTR, Anglican Bishop Samuel Musabyimana, died in detention in 2003, before the opening of his trial.
Adventist Pastor Elisaphan Ntakirutimana, the first clergyman tried by the ICTR, died after a long illness at the beginning of the year, only a few weeks after having served his 10-year prison sentence.
Established in Arusha, in northern Tanzania, the ICTR has delivered, up to date, 28 convictions and 5 acquittals.


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