ICTR appeals chamber increases Rwanda Catholic priest sentence to life in prison

[JURIST] The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] Wednesday upheld the conviction of Catholic priest Father Athanase Seromba [case materials] for genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and increased his sentence to life in prison [press release]. Seromba, who was acquitted of the lesser charge of conspiracy to commit genocide, was in charge of a parish church where some more than 1,000 Tutsis sought refuge from Hutu forces. He was found to have ordered the bulldozing of the church and the shooting of all those who tried to escape. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2006, but in November 2007 prosecutors appealed the sentence [JURIST reports] as too lenient.

The ICTR appeals chamber ruled [PDF text]:

The Appeals Chamber considers that the crimes for which Mr. Seromba has been convicted are egregious in scale and inhumanity. The Appeals Chamber stresses that Mr. Seromba knew that approximately 1,500 refugees were in the church and that they were bound to die or be seriously injured as a consequence of his approval that the church be bulldozed, knowing that the refugees had come to the church seeking safety.
Seromba was the first priest convicted by the ICTR, which sits in Arusha in neighboring Tanzania. AFP has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

 

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