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ICTR prosecutors seek life sentence for Rwandan Catholic priest

[JURIST] Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [official website; JURIST news archive] Monday pushed for a life sentence for Father Athanase Seromba [case materials], arguing that Seromba's 15 year prison sentence [JURIST report] for committing genocide and extermination during the 1994 mass killings [HRW backgrounder] of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda was too lenient. Seromba, who was acquitted of lesser charges of complicity and incitement, was in charge of a parish church where some 2000 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. Seromba's lawyers argued that he was powerless to stop the carnage, in which all the sanctuary-seekers died. Seromba, the first priest convicted by the ICTR, surrendered to the tribunal in February 2002 and was convicted in December 2006.

On Sunday, the ICTR announced that it will be unable to complete its work [JURIST report] before its mandate expires in December 2008. ICTR officials plan to transfer uncompleted cases to Rwandan national jurisdiction. Amnesty International has urged the ICTR not to transfer genocide suspects to Rwanda [JURIST report; press release], saying that there are concerns regarding the fairness and impartiality of Rwanda's justice system. AFP has more.

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