Page 4, 19th July 2002

19th July 2002
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Page 4, 19th July 2002 — Africa
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Locations: Massa d, Ouagadougou

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Africa

Mercy plea for priest killer

A RELIGIOUS congregation is asking for clemency for the murderer of a missionary priest in the west African country of Burkina Faso.

The victim, Fr Celestino Digiovambattista, of the Congregation of St Camillus de Lellis, was chaplain of the capital Ouagadougou's civil hospital and prisons.

A mentally unstable youth killed him last October while the priest was attending to prisoners in Ouagadougou, the Misna missionary agency reported.

By law, the youth could face the death penalty, despite his mental state.

"We do not want capital punishment applied to the accused," said Fr Salvatore Pignatelli, director of the St Camillus medical centre in Ouagadougou. "As Christians, we cannot accept it," he said. "Moreover, Celestino, my brother in the congregation, forgave his murderer when he was dying. In addition, the forgiveness of both the victim's natural family and his religious family must be kept in mind."

Fr Celestino's family and his congregation have both decided not to prosecute.

The priest was born in Massa d'Albe, Italy, in 1934. In 1972 he went to what was then called Upper Volta.

Genocide nuns lodge appeal

Two CArhouc nuns who were convicted of genocide in Rwanda have lodged an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights.

The pair of Rwandan nuns were convicted in 2001 by a Belgian court of taking part in the 1994 genocide and were sentenced to between 12 and 20 years in jail without appeal.

Sr Gertrude, named as Consolata Mukangando, and Sr Maria Kizito, named as Julienne Mukabutera, were accused of failing to protect between 5,000 and 7,000 people who had sought sanctuary in their Benedictine convent.

Prosecutors said the two Hutu nuns drove local Tutsis — mostly women and children — out of their compound and stood by as militiamen killed them.

The nuns — who fled to Belgium in 1994 — were also accused of informing militiamen that some people had fled to nearby buildings.

Kizito was also accused of providing jerry cans of gasoline used to set a garage containing 500 people on fire.

"They believe they did not get a fair trial," a lawyer representing Kizito told the news agency, Reuters.

He said the appeal would focus on key witnesses and the chief accuser, Emmanuel Rekeraho, head of the extremist militia in Sovu, southern Rwanda, where the crimes had been committed and who could not testify at the nuns' trial as he had already been imprisoned in Rwanda.

Adultress wins execution stay

AN ISLAMIC court in Nigeria has granted a stay of execution to a woman condemned to death for adultery.

The court in Funtua has postponed until August 5 a decision on the fate of a woman facing death by stoning.

Amina Lawal, 30, is the second Nigerian woman condemned under shariah law for the offence. She was sentenced on March 22 by a court in Bakori, in the northern state of Katsina.

Last month the court of Funtua allowed Lawal to return to her village to take care of her six-month-old daughter.

Lawal's lawyers, contracted by an association of women's rights, want the sentence of death by stoning to be declared unconstitutional.




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