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Rwanda genocide tribunal hears appeal of convicted former priest

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] heard arguments [press release] Tuesday on behalf of Emmanuel Rukundo [case materials; church website], a priest convicted of genocide [JURIST report] and other charges last year. The appellate chamber also heard arguments from the prosecution, which is seeking to increase the 25-year sentence to life imprisonment. Rukundo's arguments are based on his contention that the Trial Chamber erred both factually and legally in reaching a conviction. The Trial Chamber originally found that Rukundo, while serving as a military chaplain and captain in the Rwandan Armed Forces, used his position as a priest to influence troops to abduct and kill Tutsi refugees who were hiding in the Saint Leon Seminary during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive].

The ICTR continues it work to prosecute those most responsible for the Rwandan genocide, in which nearly 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, were killed. In March, the ICTR Appeals Chamber affirmed [JURIST report] the genocide conviction of popular Rwandan singer-songwriter Simon Bikindi. Also in March, the Appeals Chamber reversed several convictions against Rwandan district attorney Simeon Nchamihigo including murder and extermination as crimes against humanity and three counts of genocide. Both Bikindi and Nchamihigo are being held in the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania, pending their transfer to the countries where they will serve their sentences.

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