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Nuns deny accusations of complicity in Rwanda's genocide

Two Rwandan nuns accused of complicity in the genocide that swept their country in 1994 told a court on Friday that they were just innocent bystanders.

Sr Gertrude and Sr Maria Kisito told the court they were powerless to protect the thousands of Tutsis slaughtered at their convent.

The nuns are among four Rwandans charged with multiple homicide in a landmark trial in Brussels, where a Belgian jury is judging war crimes in central Africa.

The nuns are accused of collaborating with the Hutu mob that killed up to 7000 Tutsis seeking sanctuary at the convent at Sovu, southern Rwanda.

Prosecutors charge that Sr Gertrude, the mother superior at Sovu, pleaded with local authorities to expel the refugees from the convent grounds, even though she knew that would mean they would all be killed.

Sister Maria Kisito is accused of supplying petrol to the militia as it prepared to burn down the convent's garage, where some 600 Tutsis were holed up.