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Guy Theunis
In prison since 5 September 2005

Belgian missionary priest Guy Theunis, the former editor of the Rwandan magazine Dialogue, was arrested on 5 September at Kigali airport and accused of responsibility in the 1994 genocide. He faces a possible death sentence.

The onetime editor of the magazine Dialogue, Father Guy Theunis was arrested in the Kigali airport transit lounge on 5 September 2005 during a stopover on his way back to Belgium after attending peace and reconciliation seminars in the neighbouring eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Several government officials testified against him when he appeared before a “gacaca” popular tribunal in the Rugenge district of Kigali on 10 September. (The gacacas have been created to try the hundreds of thousands of people still held on suspicion of involvement in the 1994 genocide.) At the end of the hearing, the court ruled that he was a category one suspect, meaning he is considered to have been among the “planners, organisers, inciters, supervisors and leaders of the genocide” and therefore faces the death penalty. He was immediately transferred to Kigali’s main prison to await trial by a conventional court.

Theunis is accused of inciting hate and ethnic divisions because he quoted passages from the extremist newspaper Kangura, which did play a role in inciting the genocide. But Theunis quoted Kangura solely in order to better condemn hate and intolerance. A member of the Company of Missionaries of Africa, Theunis was also the Reporters Without Borders correspondent in Rwanda in 1992-93.

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