Arusha, 7 May 2009 (FH) - A Rwandan Hutu priest suspected of having massacred his Tutsis students during the 1994 genocide lives in Italy, where he is a vicar in a parish of the diocese of Florence, reported Thursday London-based Non Governmental Organization (NGO), African Rights.

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Of his real name Emmanuel Uwayezu, the catholic priest works in the parish Madonna del Rosario e S. Pio V in Ponzano, under the name of Emmanuel Mihigo Wayezu, according to human rights organization.

African Rights accuses the clergyman in its report, to have played an important role in the massacre, on 7 May 1994, of more than 80 young pupils, aged from 12 to 20 years who studied in the Mary-Mercy school complex in Kibeho, southern Rwanda, of which he was the director.

"On the morning of 7 May, large number of militiamen waving machetes and knives surrounded the students, most of whom were in the dining room", alleged the NGO.

"Father Uwayezu was nowhere to be seen. The gendarmes, who he were posted there "to safeguard the students" shot into the air instead of dispersing the attackers. The massacres started immediately. Except for a handful of survivors, most of the students perished, killed by the guns and grenades of the gendarmes or the spears, axes and machetes of the militiamen, claims African Rights.

"Father Uwayezu returned to Kibeho several days after the massacre to arrange for the gendarmes to provide military training to Hutu male students so they could seek out survivors", accuses the report.

African Rights has called on the authorities in Italy and in Rwanda, and on the Catholic Churches in Rwanda and in Italy, to carry out their own investigations into the serious charges contained in the report.

African Rights reminded that another catholic priest who worked under a false name in an Italian parish, Abbot Athanase Seromba, was sentenced to life in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR).

Before 1994, the organization also contends, Father Uwayezu let the Hutu students treat their school-fellows as enemies of Rwanda.

A few hours before the massacres, he was unaware of the calls of Tutsis students who had denounced a warped plan by their Hutu colleagues in order to eliminate them, adds the report.


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