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French prosecutors fail to prove genocide charges against Rwandan priest

Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the 21st anniversary commemoration of the genocide in Kigali this year
Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the 21st anniversary commemoration of the genocide in Kigali this year AFP/Stéphanie Aglietti

French public prosecutors have called for charges to be dismissed in the case of a Catholic priest accused of taking part in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, 21 years after they started investigating the accusations against him.


Some 800,000 people, mainly from the Tutsi ethnic group, were massacred, before the Hutu-dominated government fell to Rwandan Patriotic Front.

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Although Wenceslas Munyeshyaka's behaviour and statements during and after the slaughter "raise very many questions", the inquiry has been unable to conclusively confirm any "certain and specific actions" that prove his active participation, prosecutor François Molins said in a statement Wednesday.

Judges will now have to decide whether to send Munyeshyaka to trial or not.

In 1994 he was priest of a parish in the capital, Kigali, where people fleeing the violence took refuge.

Having fled to France with the help of the church he was arrested in 1995 at the request of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which then handed the case over to the French courts.

In 2005 the international court accused him of taking part in meetings to plan massacres, handing Tutsi civilians over to Hutu militias, murdering three young Tutsis and encouraging or committing rape.

Munyeshyaka, who is now priest of a parish in northern France, has always denied all the charges and claimed that Hutu militias accused him of protecting Tutsis.

Up to 30 legal cases relating the Rwandan genocide have been opened in France.

The first trial to take place, in 2014, jailed presidential guard officer Pascal Simbikangwa for 25 years for complicity in crimes against humanity.

He is appealing.

Two former local officials, Tito Barahira and Octavien Ngenzi, are expected to face trial in 2016.

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