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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Rwanda's freed prisoners go home
Rob Walker
BBC News, Kigali

Hutu prisoner 1995
Some prisoners have been held for 10 years without trial
Prisoners freed last month from Rwanda's jails are returning home. Some 22,000 detainees were released from prison at the end of July.

They have spent the past month in so-called 'solidarity camps' to prepare them for the return to their homes.

Most have confessed to involvement in the 1994 genocide, but are not among the top category of suspects.

An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus died in the genocide.


The former prisoners have undergone a month of military-style training, being taught about reconciliation and about how to re-integrate into their communities.

People don't have confidence in those who have been in prison for so many years - they are afraid of us
Eric, former prisoner

Carrying tightly wrapped bundles of possessions on their heads, they have begun the journey home.

Eric, who like most of the others has confessed to involvement in the genocide, said he is happy to be going back to his family - but was worried about how he would be perceived by others.

"The problem is, people don't have confidence in those who have been in prison for so many years - they are afraid of us," he says.


Fidele Gatsinzi, the head of the solidarity camp, says the men and women being released have other fears too.

"They come home to find some of their wives have remarried , or their husbands have remarried," he says.

"But since we taught them to manage conflicts we hope they will solve those problems."

But while the former prisoners now try and re-start their lives - after up to 11 years in detention - their release is a bitter pill for many Tutsis who survived of the genocide.

They fear that some of the confessions made by the prisoners before their release may have been false - minimising the crimes committed.

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