Former Rwandan chaplain sentenced to 25 years by UN genocide court

27 February 2009

A former chaplain in Rwanda’s armed forces was sentenced today to 25 years for the abduction, murder and sexual assault of Tutsi civilians by the United Nations tribunal set up to deal with the mass killings that engulfed the tiny African country in 1994.

Emmanuel Rukundo was found guilty of genocide, murder as a crime against humanity and extermination as a crime, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said in a press statement issued from its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

In mid-April 1994, according to the Tribunal, Mr. Rukundo, with soldiers of the Rwandan army, abducted and killed a woman referred to as Madame Rudahunga, severely beating her children as well.

“The Trial Chamber found without reasonable doubt that Rukundo was present during the commission of the crime and the soldiers acted under his authority,” the ICTR said.

It added that on at least four occasions Mr. Rukundo was found to have an integral role in the abduction and subsequent killings of Tutsi refugees from the St. Leon Minor Seminary, and, on one occasion, to have sexually assaulted a young Tutsi woman.

In sentencing Mr. Rukundo to 25 years, with credit for the time already spent in prison, the court said it considered his stature as a priest and an educated person as aggravating factors, stressing that “the accused was found to have abused his moral authority and influence.”

Mr. Rukundo, who served as a parish priest in his native Gitama prefecture before becoming a chaplain in 1993, was arrested in Geneva in 2001, at the request of the Tribunal.


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