A Catholic bishop was arrested on Wednesday for his alleged participation in Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
    Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo said Bishop Augustin Misago was being held in ``preventive detention'' until authorities decide whether to try him in Kigali or in his diocese of Gikongoro in southern Rwanda.
    Mucyo refused to elaborate on the charges but said they were serious and related to Misago's alleged role in the genocide of more than 500,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.
    President Pasteur Bizimungu and Tutsi survivors of the massacres in Gikongoro Prefecture said the bishop refused shelter to Tutsis trying to escape death from Hutu mobs and in one case, was responsible for sending to their death 19 schoolgirls he had ordered expelled from the Kibeho high school, 60 miles south of Kigali. The private Rwanda News Agency said Misago, one of Rwanda's 11 bishops, was detained at Kigali's Muhima prison after he apparently plotted an escape involving the papal nuncio and the French Embassy in Rwanda.
    The embassy denied the report, which apparently came following a meeting at the ambassador's residence with Misago and the new papal envoy. A secretary at the papal residence, contacted by telephone, said the nuncio would not answer any questions. Misago's arrest appeared imminent after Bizimungu, speaking at the fifth anniversary of the genocide at Kibeho last week, called for the bishop to either explain himself publicly or wait for justice to take its course. Misago, who was present at the ceremony that honored 20,000 Tutsis slaughtered at the town's Roman Catholic church, did not answer accusations against him.
    In previous interviews, he has denied any involvement in the killing.
    African Rights, a human rights group, released a report last week calling for Pope John Paul II to facilitate an investigation into Misago's role in the killings. Misago is the highest-ranking church official to be arrested on genocide charges. So far, 19 Rwandan priests have been jailed on suspicion of aiding the killings, which ended in July 1994 when the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front won power and ousted the extremist Hutu government.

9:38am 15/4/99 / AP


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