23 October 2006

Rwanda: Catholic Priest Jailed for 'Denying the Genocide'

Arusha — A Catholic priest, Father Jean-Marie Vianney Uwizeyeyezu, head of the parish of Kaduha in southern Rwanda, has been jailed to 12 years for "having downplayed the genocide", his lawyer said.

"He has received a sentence of 12 years in prison plus a fee from the Court of First Instance for having, in their words, downplayed the genocide", Mr Protais Mutembe, told Hirondelle News Agency. The priest was found guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sitting in Arusha, Tanzania.

Fr Uwizeyeyezu was sentenced on October 6, the lawyer said. "We are going to appeal before the High Court", Mr Mutembe said, stressing that the priest who was arrested last May, is imprisoned in Gikongoro in the south of the country.

According to Imvaho Nshya, a pro-government weekly published in Kinyarwanda, the national tongue, the priest, while officiating at mass back in April quoted several Rwandan sayings that were interpreted as negating the 1994 genocide in which up to 800,000 people were killed.

Fr Uwizeyeyezu, the paper said, was condemned by virtue of a law passed in September 2003 which made denial or negation of the genocide illegal.

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