Home News Rwanda grants ‘genocide priest’ a Belgian trial

Rwanda grants ‘genocide priest’ a Belgian trial

Published on 09/11/2005

9 November 2005

BRUSSELS — Rwanda’s High Court ruled on Wednesday that Belgian priest Guy Theunis could have charges of genocide heard against him in a Belgian court.

The Belgian government had requested Rwanda hand over Theunis for trial in September. The missionary faced the death penalty in Rwanda, but Belgium has no such sentence.

Crediting Belgium’s “commitment to fight genocide”, the Rwandan government was receptive to the nation’s request from the start, Associated Press reported.
A Brussels court convicted four Rwandans in 2001 for atrocities in 1994 and sentenced them to 12 to 20 years in jail. Two more Rwandans were convicted in Belgium in June and sentenced to at least 10 years.

The president of the Rwandan High Court, Tharciss Karugarama, ruled on Wednesday that Theunis’ transfer violated neither his rights nor Rwandan law.

Theunis denies allegations he incited genocide by republishing articles from an extremist publication, ‘Kangura’, in his magazine ‘Dialogue’.

“I am astonished to hear all these allegations levelled against me. I sometimes wrote articles to press for human rights,” he told a Rwandan court last month.

“I never republished articles from Kangura, but just translated as part of a press review.”

In October, Theunis became the first foreigner to go before one of the village “gacaca” courts set up to help investigate the genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in the 1990s.

Following the High Court ruling on Wednesday, Theunis is now expected to return to Belgium on Saturday after the Rwandan Justice Ministry process the necessary paperwork.

Theunis was arrested at the Kigali Airport in Rwanda in September while on his way home to South Africa from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He worked as a missionary in Rwanda, a former Belgian colony, from 1970 until 1994.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news