Rwandan genocide pastor released

An 81-year-old Rwandan pastor jailed for 10 years for his part in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide has been released.

Elizaphan Ntakirutimana is the first convict of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to be freed after serving their sentence.

He was jailed in 2003 but given credit for time served before the trial.

The Seventh Day Adventist clergyman was accused of personally driving Hutu attackers to places where Tutsis had taken refuge.

His son, Doctor Gerard Ntakirutimana, is serving a 25-year sentence for murdering Tutsi civilians.

Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in just 100 days in 1994 by Hutu extremists.

During Pastor Ntakirutimina’s trial, the court heard how Tutsis had taken refuge in the early days of the killing at the Mugonero Hospital and Church complex, where his son worked, in western Rwanda.

As a respected member of the Seventh Adventist Day Church, some fellow clergymen hiding in the complex sent him a letter begging him for help.

The letter asked him as a man of God to intercede.

“We wish to inform you that tomorrow, we will be killed along with our families,” it read.

Instead, the pastor transported the attackers to the hospital complex and also ordered the roof of a church ripped off, so that the unarmed men, women and children inside could be more easily killed.

The ICTR, based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, has been trying the high-profile genocide cases.

Since 1997 it has convicted 26 ringleaders of the genocide and acquitted five people.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday December 7, 2006.
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