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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October, 2004, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Asylum seeker in 'sanctuary' bid
Josette Ishimwe
Josette Ishimwe is said to be deeply distressed at the situation
An asylum seeker who saw her parents hacked to death in Rwanda is seeking refuge in a church to avoid being sent back to the country.

Josette Ishimwe, 23, came to England after escaping the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and settled in Bristol.

But her final appeal for asylum has been turned down.

In an attempt to avoid deportation, she has been taken in by Father Richard McKay, priest of St Nicholas of Tolentino Church in Easton.

Immigration officers

The Catholic priest says he is prepared to go to prison to stop Miss Ishimwe being returned to Rwanda.

Father Richard McKay
Father Richard McKay says he is willing to go to prison to protect her

Miss Ishimwe, who was just 13 when she saw he mother, father and other family members murdered, is said to be severely distressed at the prospect of deportation.

She is being cared for by fellow parishioners at the vicarage attached to the church in the Easton area of the city.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said two officers had gone to the church on Thursday morning in support of immigration officers, but that a decision had been taken not to arrest her at that time.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are not able to discuss individual cases but if she has failed her appeal she will be expected to leave the country."

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