Florence Archdiocese Criticizes U.N. Court´s Style

Media Hear of Accusation Before a Rwanda Priest Does

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ROME, AUG. 8, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Archdiocese of Florence has protested publicly about the way in which a U.N. Court in Rwanda presented accusations against a Rwandan priest living in Italy.

Carla Del Ponte, a court´s attorney, revealed to the media the accusations of genocide against Father Athanase Sumba Bura, before he told the priest.

Riccardo Bigi, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Florence, told Vatican Radio that «this is an act that is not altogether correct.»

To date, the U.N. Court has not succeeded in calling Father Suma Bura, because the Italian government opposes his extradition to appear before this judicial institution, which is headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania.

In November 1999, the Sunday Times of London reported that the priest is accused of having accepted 2,000 to 2,500 Tutsis into the church of Nyange village, and of encouraging the «Interahamwe» extremists to massacre them.

«Father Athanase has neither fled nor is he hiding from the law,» the spokesman of the Florentine Curia said. «What is more, he has always expressed his total willingness to explain and answer accusations in appropriate quarters.»

The archdiocese maintains that there are many doubts about the accusations made against the priest: «Unfortunately, in the past there have been cases where prosecution began, because of very serious accusations against Rwandan religious, which were later found to be completely false. This was the case, for example, of Bishop Augustine Misago of Gikongoro.»

A Rwandan court requested the death penalty for the bishop, who was eventually cleared of all charges.

Father Athanase has said he thinks someone has a special interest in attacking the Church in Rwanda.

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