Former Rwandan bishop Pleads not guilty, complains of 'brutalities'

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Sat May 5 02:20:14 EDT 2001

Former Rwandan bishop pleads not guilty, complains of arresting
officers' 'brutalities'

by Jan Nunley

(ENS) Former Church of Rwanda bishop Samuel Musabyimana has entered a
plea of "not guilty" to charges brought against him before the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania.

Musabyimana is charged with genocide or complicity in genocide;
conspiracy to commit genocide; and extermination as a crime against
humanity. During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, he was bishop of Shyogwe,
a diocese located in the central Gitarama region of Rwanda. The
indictment alleges that he ordered refugees who fled to his diocese to
be registered according to their ethnic group. Soldiers and militia
used these lists, with his knowledge, to single out Tutsi refugees and
take them to their deaths, the indictment says.

The indictment also alleges that he held meetings with Rwandan
government officials complicit in the genocide and carried out missions
abroad on behalf of that government. It also says that he paid members
of the interahamwe militia who were killing Tutsis.

Musabyimana complained to the court that he had been subjected to
"brutalities" during his arrest April 26 by Kenyan police, acting in
the presence of ICTR officials.

"My arrest was made by individuals who did not want to be identified
and who didn't show the warrant for arrest," said Musabyimana, who
entered the courtroom dressed in an episcopal cassock and wearing a
pectoral cross. "My residence was violated, searched and family
belongings, including the identity papers of visitors, were taken away.
My office was ransacked, all equipment, all files were taken without an

Musabyamina's court-appointed attorney, Bharat Chadha of Tanzania, also
protested that ICTR rules had been violated during the arrest. His
Kenyan lawyer, Ojwang Agina, complained last week to the Nairobi High
Court that the arrest was illegal, saying that his client was only
shown the arrest warrant after arriving at the ICTR detention center in
Arusha, and that he himself was manhandled and denied access to his

The presiding judge said the matter of the arrest could be addressed in
a pre-trial motion.

Musabyimana told the court that he wished to protest his innocence to
the Christian community and his colleagues in the Anglican church,
including the archbishop of Canterbury. "They should be assured that
there is no blood on my hands," he said. "My conscience is quiet."

He denounced what he called "the evil and the lie" which would be
overcome "in the name of Jesus Christ." He said he would "pray for all
Rwandans imprisoned and accused of all kinds of crimes, in Rwanda, in
Belgium, even here in Arusha and elsewhere. I say to them no matter
what, Christ does not abandon us, he is here at our sides."

The Rev. Jan Nunley is deputy director of Episcopal News Service.
Sources include reports by Hirondelle News Agency of Tanzania.

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