Catholic priest jailed for part in 1994 genocide

A Catholic priest was today convicted of participating in Rwanda's 1994 genocide by ordering militiamen to set fire to a church and then bulldoze it while 2,000 people were huddled inside seeking safety.

Athanase Seromba, sitting before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, although he will get credit for the four years already served.

The tribunal is based in Arusha, Tanzania.

According to the charge sheet, Seromba directed a militia that "attacked with traditional arms and poured fuel through the roof of the church", while "gendarmes and communal police" lobbed grenades at the refugees.

After failing to kill all the people inside, Seromba ordered the demolition of the church, the document said.

Thousands of Rwandans have turned away from Catholicism, angered and saddened by the alleged complicity of church officials in the 100-day genocide, in which more than 500,000 minority Tutsis were killed by Hutu extremists.

Priests, nuns and followers were implicated in the killings, and some churches became sites of notorious massacres.


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