Kigali, 27 October 2008 (FH) - The Catholic Church of Rwanda awaits to receive the report before being able to react to the judgment rendered Friday by the military court of Kigali in the trial of four officers who were prosecuted for the murder in June 1994 of ten clergymen, including three bishops.

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General Wilson Gumisiriza and Major Wilson Ukwishaka were acquitted while Captains John Butera and Dieudonné Rukeba were each sentenced to eight years each in prison.

The "justice and peace" commission of the Rwandan Catholic Church followed the trial from beginning to end.

"We will await until it submits a report to us so that we have a concerted reaction within the Episcopal Conference", Servilien Nzakamwita, Bishop of Byumba (northern Rwanda) and interim president of this commission, told Hirondelle Agency Monday.

"14 years, it is a little distant and time erases' traces, ‘' remarked an anonymous, priest who lost a member of his family in this multiple murder.

The defence teams are satisfied over the ruling. "I am satisfied with the judgment, for my client and for the others", stated Charles Shema Gakuba, lawyer of Captain Butera. The defender said that he was, however, ready to support his client if the latter feels the need to appeal.

For his part, the military prosecutor, Captain Kayijuka Ngabo, has yet not decided on the reaction to last Friday's judgment. "I am still thinking", he said. He had requested life imprisonment against the general and the major and had asked for 15 years in prison against the two captains.

"The conclusion of this trial was made to wait, with many questions. The proceedings proved that we wanted to give a fair trial. I believe that the judgment is right", an anonymous officer of the Rwandan army said.

The four officers were arrested on 11 June, after, according to the Rwandan army, joint investigations of the Rwandan general prosecutor and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

They were, at the time of the facts, members of the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the former rebellion currently in power.

Their trial began on 19 August.

Among the victims were the Archbishop of Kigali, Vincent Nsengiyumva, the Bishop of Byumba (northern Rwanda) Joseph Ruzindana, and the Bishop of Kabgayi, Thaddée Nsengiyumva, then President of Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda.

Suppose to observe this trial after having carried out the investigation, the ICTR, which had abandoned the case to the benefit of Rwandan justice, had not, four days after the judgment, reacted over the ruling.


© Hirondelle News Agency