Arusha, February 27, 2009 (FH)--The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has sentenced former Rwandan Catholic Priest, Emmanuel Rukundo, to 25 years imprisonment for 1994 genocide and crimes against humanity.

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Presiding Judge, Joseph Asoka De'silva from Sri Lanka said that the Chamber has found to committed acts of genocide, a crime of the most serious gravity which affects the very foundation of society and shocks the conscience of humanity.

"Crimes against humanity are also very serious offences because they are heinous in nature and shock the collective conscience of mankind," stated Judge De'silva.

The judge said the Catholic Priest was a well known within the community and was an influential figure in the Rwandan military and instead of using his position  to help build co-existence between communities, " Rukundo abused his moral authority."

The Chamber also noted was a very educated person and was ordained at the age 32 in 1991. Two years later, he was appointed as Military Chaplain of Rwandan Armed Forces.

Judge De'silva observed that Rukundo attempted to rape a Tutsi girl in Gitarama, central Rwanda, during the height of the 1994 killings at the St. Leon Minor Seminary. However, instead of sheltering her, he told the Tutsi girl, that she and her entire family were to be killed for assisting the Inyenzi (coakroaches). The Tutsi girl, dubbed witness CHH, had testified before the court.

"Nevertheless, witness CHH assisted him to carry some items to his room, in the hope that he would help to hide her. Once in the room, Rukundo locked the door, placed his pistol on the table next to the bed and began to caress her. He forced her onto the bed, opened the zipper on his trousers and lay on top of her. Due to the witness CCH's continued resistance, Rukundo gave up trying to have intercourse, but rubbed himself against her until he ejaculated."

The Chamber also found Rukundo guilty of genocide for the killing of Madame Rudahunga and causing seriously bodily harm to two of her children and two other Tutsi civilians in Gitarama.

However, Judge De' silva said that the accused will get a credit of seven years for the time already spent in detention.

Rukundo is second Catholic Priest to appear before the UN Tribunal, after Athanase Seromba, who was sentenced to life in prison.

Prosecutor of ICTR, Hassan Jallow, said that the verdict was very good, especially the findings on the sexual assault. "We will wait to read the full judgement and make a decision whether to appeal or not against the sentencing''.

On 20 February 2008, Cameroonian trial attorney William Egbe had requested life in prison while Rukundo's lawyer, Aicha Conde from the Bar of Paris, had asked for an outright acquittal.

The clergyman was arrested in Switzerland July 2001 and was transferred to the ICTR detention centre two months later. His trial began on 15 November 2006.

Last Thursday, the prosecutor had requested life in prison for Hormisdas Nsengimana, third Catholic Church official tried by the ICTR. Another Catholic Priest accused by the Tribunal, Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, will be tried in France, in accordance with a decision of the ICTR to decline jurisdiction.

The two other clergyman indicted by UN Tribunal are: Anglican Bishop Samuel Musabyimana, who died in detention in 2003 before the opening of his trial, and Adventist Pastor Elisaphan Ntakirutimana, who died of a long illness at the beginning of 2007 only a few weeks after having served his 10-year prison sentence.


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