Facing the Rwanda-Genocide Trial

Interview With Father Venuste Limguyeneza

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, APR. 24, 2001 (ZENIT.orgFIDES).- The Church has nothing to fear from the truth that may be uncovered during the genocide trial of two Rwanda nuns, a priest says.

Father Venuste Limguyeneza, 50, is a Rwandan priest from the Diocese of Butare. After receiving threats to his life, he fled to Belgium where he has lived since February 1995. The priest knows the two Rwandan Benedictine nuns who are now on trial in Brussels for genocide. The accused are Sister Gertrude and Sister Maria Kisito.

The Vatican missionary agency Fides asked Father Limguyeneza about the trial, which opened April 17, and about its effect and possible outcome.

–Q: What do you think about the trial? Can any good come from it?

–Father Limguyeneza: The genocide tragedy was followed by reciprocal accusations — many exaggerated, many false, many true. However, it is sad to see members of the Church accuse one another — for example, nuns accusing their own sisters.

It is good for a trial to be held. Here, in Belgium, much has been written about the Catholic Church being implicated in general in the massacres. With the trial, the truth will be known.

–Q: Do you mean to say that the Church does not fear the truth?

–Father Limguyeneza: The Church has nothing to fear from the truth, which independent justice can bring to light. If her children are found guilty, the Church will respect the court´s verdict and sentences. The Church does not fear the truth. In the past, and even more recently, the Church has been accused of trying to protect guilty persons, but the Church has never hidden anyone.

–Q: It has been said that the Church tried to hide Sister Gertrude and Sister Maria Kisito.

–Father Limguyeneza: This accusation was leveled mainly by the French magazine Golia. Public opinion was told that the Church is powerful, it tries to protect its religious personnel from human justice, it is a Church that wants to falsify the truth.

–Q: You are from Butare, the same diocese as the nuns. Do you know them?

–Father Limguyeneza: Yes, I have known them for some time. They are quite ordinary nuns. As mother superior, Sister Gertrude was held in high esteem by her community. Her Sisters elected her as their superior because they admired her good sense and great humanity — hardly a person capable of genocide.

–Q: Why is the Belgian government interested in this trial?

–Father Limguyeneza: Belgium has always kept an eye on events in central Africa, [which was] once under its rule. Many Belgians have lived in Rwanda, and there are many Rwandans, of different ethnic groups, exiled here in Belgium.

I think that Belgium wants to boost its image as a country that defends human rights and punishes people found guilty of crimes against humanity. It supported the Pinochet trial and now this one, regarding Rwanda.

–Q: What could Rwanda obtain with the trial?

–Father Limguyeneza: As regards the genocide, we all have the right to know the truth. Those guilty of the massacres must be brought to trial; this is a question of truth and justice. When we speak of reconciliation, we must think of the victims who died, their suffering families, as well as innocent people unjustly accused. It is most important to ascertain the truth and re-establish the good name of innocent persons.

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