Kigali, 29 May 2009 (FH) - The judgement in trial of genocide-accused Priest Joseph Ndagijimana and his co-defendants will be rendered on 16 June before a semi-traditional Gacaca Court of southern Rwanda for their alleged participation in the 1994 killings, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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Among his 16 co-defendants is another monk, Marist Brother Francois Nkusi.

The testimony of witnesses ended on Wednesday before the gacaca court of appeal of the Byimana sector, in the South Province, according to the website of Kigali-based the League for Human Rights in Great Lakes Region (LDGL).  

Father Ndagijimana, who has claimed his innocence, has been accused of genocide, murder, illegal possession of a firearm and putting on a military uniform during the massacres.  

According to the prosecution, the fact of wearing the military uniform and befriending the militiamen in 1994, encouraged the killers.

The catholic priest allegedly also chased away ethnicTutsis who had sought refuge in the parish church of Byimana.

The clergyman, in prison for more than 10 years, allegedly was responsible for the death of seven clergymen and nuns as well as a journalist, Viateur Kalinda.

Ndagijmana admitted that he had carried a rifle in 1994 on grounds to protect refugees at his church.

Concerning the uniform, he affirmed to have worn it twice to go to save Tutsis who were threatened with death.

He also presented a list of people whom he claimed were sheltered and helped to flee, including two priests and a nun.

Born in 1961, Ndagijimana was priest of the parish of Byimana from 1992 to 1995.

After his arrest on 8 February 1995, he initially had been tried and sentenced to life in prison by a conventional court.


© Hirondelle News Agency