11.01.08 - ICTR/NSENGIMANA - TRIAL OF GENOCIDE ACCUSED CATHOLIC PRIEST RESUMES MONDAY

  Arusha, 11 January 2008 (FH) - The trial of Abbot Hormisdas Nsengimana, a Catholic priest accused of 1994 genocide, will resume on Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
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It will be the first trial to resume after the end of year festive holidays.

The priest was a vice-chancellor of the College of Christ the King of Nyanza, southern Rwanda, one of the most prestigious schools then in Rwanda. The school taught Latin, religion and directed religious offices at the College of Christ the King at the parish near Nyanza.

The accused is facing charges of genocide, murder and extermination and has pleaded not guilty.

"Unfortunately he did not use his knowledge and his gifts for the advancement of humanity but on the contrary for its destruction ", alleged the chief prosecutor, Silvana Arbia, during her opening statement on June 22, last year.

Mrs Arbia described him as a Hutu extremist who, even before the genocide, preached his hatred of Tutsis to his students, to priests and employees of the College.

The former priest, according to Arbia, ordered not only massacres but personally killed an old priest, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, and several women, all Tutsis.

However, a lawyer of the defendant Briton, David Hooper, maintained innocence of the clergyman and expressed the hope that the trial would make it possible to restore the accused's credibility.

Nsengimana was arrested in March 2002 in Yaounde, Cameroon and was transferred to the ICTR detention center the following month.

The ICTR has so far indicted four Rwandan catholic priests. The first to be tried was Abbot Athanase Seromba, who was sentenced, 15 December 2006, to fifteen years in prison for genocide and extermination.

ER/PB/SC
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