Roman Catholic Bishop Augustin Misago, cleared of genocide charges


Bishop Augustin Misago

Thursday, 15 June 2000

On 15 June 2000, Roman Catholic Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro was cleared of charges against him regarding his alleged participation in the Rwandan genocide by a Court of Law in Rwanda. Bishop Misago was arrested on 14 April 1999 and charged with helping orchestrate the 1994 Rwandan genocide that left more than 800 000 Tutsi and sympathetic Hutu dead. The main charges related to the fact that the Bishop, refused to offer aid to those in need, sending 30 school children to their deaths at the hands of machete wielding militiamen and crucially of participating in high-level meetings that organised the mass extermination of much of Rwanda's Tutsi population. 

Among the more infamous examples given of the B Bishop's alleged callousness was the case of Father Niyomugabo, who perished after telephoning Misago for aid. Misago apparently dismissed the case stating that there was nothing he could do to assist him.

 In his defence, Misago stated that he only participated in meetings with senior members of the government at the time of the genocide to appeal for calm and that the charges brought against him, are part of a political conspiracy to put the Roman Catholic church on trial. At the time of the Bishop's arrest, thirty six members of the clergy had been arrested for actions complicit in the genocide, with two having already been sentenced to death after being tried. The case against the Bishop had severely strained the relationship between the Vatican and Rwanda as well as exposed tensions between Hutu and Tutsi members of clergy of the Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda. When Bishop Misago was asked what he would do on being acquitted after a year in jail, he responded by saying that he would remain in Rwanda, as it is his home. The case however remains controversial as many Rwandans still battle with coming to terms with the genocide and the role of clergy during the genocide.

• BBC Rwandan Bishop cleared of Genocide (online), available at: [Accessed 07 June 2010]
•  Catholic News Service Decade after the Rwandan genocide, Irish missionary lives with the legacy(online), available at: [Accessed 07 June 2010]
•  Christianity Today Influence of Roman Catholic Church in Acquittal of Rwandan Bishop Debated (online), available at: [Accessed 07 June 2010]

Last updated : 14-Jun-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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