The trial of a Rwandan Catholic priest accused of genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1994 Rwandan genocide is due to start today, at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Catholic Information Service Africa reports. Fr Athanase Seromba, 39, from Rutsiro commune in Kibuye Prefecture (Western Rwanda), is charged with four counts including genocide, or complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. At the time of the genocide where an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed, the accused was the parish priest in charge of Nyange Parish in Kivumu commune also in Kibuye. The indictment states that many refugees fled to hide in churches and public buildings, but the genocide suspect "refused to celebrate Mass for those who had taken refuge in the church, and stressed that he didn't want to do that for the inyenzi", a Kinyarwanda word for cockroaches, which was used at the time to refer to Tutsis. The prosecutor alleges that the accused along with a recently arrested former businessman from Kibuye, Gaspard Kanyarukiga, was on April 14, 1994, involved in the massacre of some 6 000 Tutsis who had taken refuge at Nyange Parish church. This is the first time the tribunal will adjudicate the trial of a Catholic priest accused of genocide. Source: CISA
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