|Africa||RWANDAN BISHOP DENIES LINK TO GENOCIDE PLAN|
The bishop accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide yesterday denied attending meetings with government officials where the massacres were planned.
Bishop Augustin Misago is accused of actively collaborating with the then Hutu government, which hatched a plot to exterminate the ethnic Tutsi minority. His trial, which opened last week, resumed yesterday after a week-long adjournment.
Prosecutors alleged he held meetings with then Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, who has been sentenced by a UN court to life imprisonment after he confessed to genocide. Misago acknowledged he had met government officials but said he was searching for ways of assisting the many displaced people who had sought shelter in the parishes of his diocese of Gikongoro in southern Rwanda.
"I did not attend any meetings in which genocide plans were discussed. I was aware that there were killers in those meetings, but I continued to attend them because I judged them salutary for the people."
He said his diocese's Catholic charity distributed aid to about 50,000 Tutsis in a temporary camp who were later massacred by the Hutu militia.
The bishop, who was arrested in April, claims he is a victim of a political campaign against the Catholic Church, which has been criticised by human rights groups for its alleged silence during the genocide.
Reuters 2:19pm 24/9/99