Catholic nun jailed for 30 years for her part in Rwandan genocide

A Catholic nun has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for helping militias kill hundreds of people hiding in a hospital during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, an official said Friday.

Theophister Mukakibibi was sentenced by a traditional gacaca court for helping Hutu militiamen to kill ethnic Tutsis seeking refuge from the slaughter in Butare hospital, where she worked.

“She was responsible for selecting Tutsis and would throw them out of the hospital and the militia would then kill them,” said Jean Baptiste Ndahumba, president of the local gacaca court in Butare town. “This nun was organizing people to be killed.” She was jailed Thursday.

She would also hold regular meetings with Hutu extremist groups and denied food to Tutsis hiding in the hospital, he said by telephone. About 20 people testified against her, he added.

In the massacre, 100,000 people were killed in the southeastern prefecture of Butare.

A number of Hutu Catholic and Protestant church leaders are alleged to have played significant roles in the east African nation’s 100-day massacre. More than a half-million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by the militia, orchestrated by the extremist Hutu government then in power. The genocide ended when Tutsi rebels toppled the government.

The gacaca courts are intended to speed up the genocide trials and are separate from the conventional judicial system. With nine judges from the local community, the traditional courts were also established to help heal divisions but can impose life sentences.

Some 63,000 genocide suspects are detained in Rwanda, and justice authorities say that at least 761,000 people should stand trial for their role in the slaughter and chaos that came with it. The suspects represent 9.2 percent of Rwanda’s estimated 8.2 million people.

A U.N. tribunal based in neighboring Tanzania is trying those accused of masterminding the genocide in Rwanda. Three members of the clergy have appeared at the tribunal.

In 2001, two Rwandan Catholic nuns were convicted by a Belgian court for aiding and abetting the mass murders. A Roman Catholic priest is on trial before the Tanzania-based U.N. tribunal, accused of ordering the slaughter of 2,000 people who sought refuge in his church.

Rwanda’s genocide began hours after a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana was mysteriously shot down as it approached the capital, Kigali, on the evening of April 6, 1994. The leader was returning from power-sharing talks with Tutsi-led rebels.

The genocide ended after rebels, led by current President Paul Kagame, ousted the extremist Hutu government that had orchestrated the slaughter.

Vicar’s support for nude calendar

A Gloucestershire vicar is lending his support to a nude calendar by displaying the images in his church.

The Rev Stephen Earley from St Martins in Horsley, is launching ‘Exposed 2005’ after Sunday’s service commemorating the genocide in Rwanda, Africa.

Buy The Calendar
BOOKNAME

EXPOSED 2005
The Horsley Women’s Calendar

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. Last year a group of women in Horsley, Gloucestershire decided they wanted to raise funds and awareness. This Calendar is their attempt to do just that.

Buy The Calendar


“I’ve been very impressed by the calendar, the pictures have all been very tastefully shot,” he said.

The charity calendar, featuring local women, aims to help survivors of the genocide and victims of rape and HIV.

More than 5,000 of the calendars, costing £10, have been printed.

The launch of the calendar on 26 September marks the 10th anniversary of the genocide.

Rachel Stevens, 45, who appears for the June entry, helped organise the project.

She said: “The widows left in Rwanda are now dying. It’s a horrendous situation.

‘Tasteful manner’

“About two years ago we wondered how we could raise some money for the victims of the genocide.

“We decided to do a nude calendar, but wanted to do it in a tasteful manner. The results are a powerful and sensitive set of photos.

“The calendar is more evocative than provocative which is how we wanted it, considering the juxtaposition of nakedness with the subject matter.”

The women were photographed by Angela Williams whose work is on display at the National Portrait Gallery.