Saturday, February 28, 2009
Emmanuel Rukundo, a former chaplain in Rwanda’s armed forces, was sentenced this week by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to 25 years for the abduction, murder, and sexual assault of Tutsi civilians in Rwanda in 1994. Rukundo was found guilty of genocide, murder as a crime against humanity, and extermination. According to the Tribunal, Mr. Rukundo, with soldiers of the Rwandan army, abducted and killed a woman referred to as Madame Rudahunga, and severely beat her children. The Trial Chamber found without reasonable doubt that Rukundo was present during the commission of the crime and the soldiers acted under his authority. On at least four occasions Mr. Rukundo was found to have an integral role in the abduction and subsequent killings of Tutsi refugees from the St. Leon Minor Seminary, and, on one occasion, to have sexually assaulted a young Tutsi woman. In sentencing Mr. Rukundo to 25 years (with credit for time already spent in prison), the ICTR said it considered his stature as a priest and an educated person as aggravating factors, stressing that “the accused was found to have abused his moral authority and influence.” Rukundo had served as a parish priest in his native Gitama prefecture before becoming a chaplain in the armed forces in 1993. He was arrested in Geneva Switzerland in 2001, at the request of the ICTR.