Arusha, 20 August 2008 (FH) - The trial of four officers of the current Rwandan army prosecuted for murders in Kabgayi ,central Rwanda, in 1994, of 13 members of the Catholic clergy, including three bishops, opened Tuesday before a military tribunal in Kigali, reported Wednesday governmental radio station, Radio Rwanda. 

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General Wilson Gumisiriza, Major Wilson Ukwishaka as well as Captains John Butera and Dieudonné Rukeba were arrested on 11 June, following joint investigations by the Rwandan Prosecutor General and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

"The trial started to rule on the merits yesterday (Tuesday)", reported the radio. The two accused captains renewed their guilty plea of 17 June at the time of their initial appearance.

However, they have requested the tribunal to thoroughly examine their case by taking into account the context and the circumstances of the time of the facts.

General Gumisiriza and Major Ukwishatse, who pleaded not guilty, did not have the time to begin their testimonies Tuesday because it was late, according to Radio Rwanda.

The proceedings continued all day on Wednesday, eye-witnesses told Hirondelle Agency on phone from Kigali.

The other two accused-- General and Major-have rejected any responsibility, asserting that they did not know that their subordinates were going to commit these murders perpetrated on 5 June 1994.

All four defendants were then members of the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF, the former rebellion currently in power in Rwanda).

Among the clergymen killed, almost all of them Hutus was the Archbishop of Kigali, Vincent Nsengiyumva, Bishop of Byumba (northern Rwanda) Joseph Ruzindana, and Bishop of Kabgayi, Thaddee Nsengiyumva, then President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda.


© Hirondelle News Agency