Human rights group slams Rwanda for arresting priest

 A human rights body has criticised Rwanda for arresting a Belgian priest and charging him with inciting people to participate in the 1994 genocide on the basis of "hearsay and emotionalism", The Standard, a Kenyan daily, has reported. On September 6 Rwandan authorities arrested Fr Guy Theunis MAfr, a member of the Catholic order of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), who served as a missionary in the central African country from 1970 until 1994. Fr Theunis is the first European to be arrested by Rwanda on genocide accusations, but not the first charged in the 1994 slaughter of 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus by extremist Hutus. He pleaded innocent on Monday, September 12, 2005 before a traditional (gacaca) court. Rwandan prosecutors say Theunis published articles in the Kangura newspaper that encouraged Hutus to take part in the killings. "There was absolutely no evidence of incitement and I think he was charged based on hearsay, emotionalism and association," the head of the US-based Human Rights Watch's board of directors, Jane Olson, told Reuters in Kigali. "We are disappointed that the charges raised against him were not dismissed because there were no facts to support the charges," she said. But Rwandan officials said the traditional court conducted the hearing in an open and fair manner. "Everybody saw the amount of evidence that was given against him, but I don't want to comment on what the courts will do," said Johnston Busingye, Rwanda's justice secretary-general. Belgian prime minister is reportedly set to meet Rwandan President Paul Kagame over the matter. Source: CISA

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