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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Trial of Rwandan priest suspended
A survivor prays at a mass grave
The Catholic Church is accused of aiding the killers
The trial of a priest accused of involvement in the Rwandan genocide has been halted for a day, after protests at the UN war crimes court in Tanzania.

Forty-three of the accused began a three-day protest on Monday against proposals to move the cases to Rwanda.

A tribunal spokesman said the court had told other lawyers to represent the accused, if their own continued action.

The tribunal was set up after the slaughter of some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

Faster justice

The first Catholic priest to go on trial at the tribunal, Athanase Seromba, refused to appear in court on Monday, accusing the tribunal of bias.

He denies charges that he organised the massacre of more than 2,000 Tutsis at a church in the west of Rwanda.

20 guilty verdicts
20 suspects on trial
23 suspects awaiting trial
Source: ICTR

Former Rwandan army chief of staff Major-General Augustin Bizimungu also boycotted the start of his separate trial on Monday.

They are unhappy at plans to transfer the detained and possibly some caseloads to Rwanda itself after the tribunal's mandate expires.

They say that, as Hutus, they will face "victor's justice" in Rwanda, where key government positions are now held by Tutsis.

But a tribunal spokesman told the BBC that it was the court's duty to ensure that states willing to take any cases would give the accused a fair trial.

He told the programme Focus on Africa that none of the tribunal suspects would be tried elsewhere with the risk of the death penalty being applied.

Rwanda's government has criticised the slow pace at which the Arusha tribunal has worked.

It is supposed to complete all investigations by the end of this year and all trials by the end of 2008.

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