The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rwandan priest gets life for 1,500 dead

ARUSHA, Tanzania - A U.N. tribunal has extended the sentence of a priest to life in prison after upholding his war crimes conviction for ordering militiamen to burn and bulldoze a church with 1,500 people inside during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's ruling came after Rwandan Roman Catholic priest Athanase Serombawar appealed his 2006 conviction, a tribunal statement posted on its Web site late Wednesday said. He was originally sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The tribunal is trying the alleged masterminds of the 100-day Rwandan genocide in which more than 500,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists.

The tribunal said it convicted Seromba for "his role in the destruction of the church in Nyange Parish, and the consequent death of approximately 1500 Tutsi refugees sheltering inside."

Seromba was convicted of leading a militia that attacked the people and poured fuel through the roof of the church, while police threw grenades inside. After failing to kill everybody inside the church, Seromba ordered it to be demolished, the tribunal found.

Thousands of Rwandans have turned away from Catholicism, angered and saddened by the complicity of church officials in the genocide.

Priests, nuns and followers were implicated in the killings and some churches were sites of notorious massacres.

The Rwanda war crimes tribunal has delivered 32 judgments, including five acquittals, since the U.N. Security Council established it in November 1994. There are 27 trials under way.

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