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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 08:32 GMT
Rwandan priest to deny genocide
A survivor prays at a mass grave
The Catholic Church is accused of aiding the killers
A Roman Catholic priest charged on four counts of genocide in Rwanda is due to start his defence at the war crimes tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania.

Father Athanase Seromba denies telling some 2,000 ethnic Tutsis to seek shelter in a church and sending bulldozers in to raze it the ground.

Defence arguments were meant to begin in March but were delayed by disputes between Mr Seromba and his lawyer.

Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in the 1994 killings.

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

Father Seromba was the first Catholic priest to go on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

When his trail began in September 2004 he initially refused to appear in court, accusing the tribunal of bias.

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

Prosecutors say that after the church had been demolished, he sent in militiamen to kill any survivors with machetes and guns.

Correspondents say the involvement of several members of the clergy in the genocide has led to a decline in church attendance in Rwanda.


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