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Rwandan priest accused of genocide says he's innocent

Fr Athanase Seromba, accused in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, appeared voluntarily before the U.N. International Court in Arusha, Tanzania, on Friday and declared himself innocent.

Fr Seromba, who gave himself up to authorities, appeared before judge Navanethem Pillay. The priest had been working in the Archdiocese of Florence in Italy for the past four years.

The priest is accused of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiring to organize the genocide, and crimes against humanity.

Authorities claim that thousands of Tutsis who lived in the Kiwumu region sought refuge in Fr Seromba's parish in Nyange, on 6 April 1994. Instead of helping them, the Hutu priest is said to have contributed to the extermination of 2000.

Fr Seromba has consistently denied the accusation, made by an organisation for the defence of human rights.

Church Hides Rwandan Priest in Tuscany (Guardian 13/7/01)