The Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, composed of Judges Joseph Asoka Nihal de Silva, Taghrid Hikmet and Seon Ki Park, found Fr. Rukundo guilty of genocide, murder as a crime against humanity and extermination as a crime. The Chamber delivered its judgment on Friday.
Fr Rukundo’s conviction is based on his participation in the killings of Tutsi civilians in the Gitarama Prefecture, the court found. In mid-April 1994, the priest, with soldiers of the Rwandan army, abducted and killed Madame Rudahunga and severely beat and injured her two children.
The Trial Chamber found that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Fr. Rukundo was present during the commission of the crime and the soldiers acted under his authority.
Between mid-April and the end of May 1994, on at least four occasions, Fr. Rukundo was found to have played an integral role in the abduction and subsequent killing of Tutsi refugees from the St. Leon Minor Seminary. He was also found to have sexually assaulted a young Tutsi woman.
In sentencing Fr. Rukundo, the Trial Chamber considered his stature as a well-known priest in the community to be an aggravating factor. The fact that the accused is an educated person was also considered. The accused was found to have abused his moral authority and influence to promote the abduction and killing of Tutsi refugees.
Fr. Rukundo was in charge of Kanyanza Parish in Gitarama Prefecture. In 1993, he became a military chaplain in the Rwandan Armed Forces. He was arrested in Geneva on the July 12, 2001 and transferred to the UN Detention Facility on September 20, 2001.
Catholic Information Service for Africa