Belgian priest arrives home for Rwanda probe

Brussels, Belgium - A Belgian priest detained in Rwanda on genocide charges arrived in Brussels on Sunday after a Rwandan court agreed he could be tried in Belgium for his role in the 1994 massacre of 800,000 people.

Guy Theunis, a 60-year-old Catholic missionary, is accused of masterminding killings at a Kigali church and reprinting articles from an extremist publication in a review he published that incited Hutus to kill Tutsis in the central African state.

Thousands of ethnic Tutsis were slaughtered during the bloodshed after seeking sanctuary in churches.

Theunis denies all charges against him.

"A public prosecutor will now decide whether or not he should remain in preventive detention and whether or not there is a case to launch a formal inquiry," Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht told the local RTBF television network.

Asked if he had made any promises to Rwanda regarding the priest, De Gucht said: "No, they did not ask me for anything."

Human Rights Watch says Rwanda does not have evidence to support the charges against Theunis, a member of the White Fathers Catholic order from 1970 until 1994. He is the first European arrested by Rwandan authorities for genocide.

Members of the Roman Catholic Church have long been accused of playing a significant role in the 1994 genocide and aiding extremist Hutu militias.

Several Rwandan priests and nuns have been convicted of participating in the genocide, including two who were convicted by a Brussels court in 2001.

The order of the White Fathers welcomed Theunis' return after more than two months in detention in Rwanda and said it had confidence in Belgian justice.

"We know Guy's untiring commitment to non-violence and reconciliation where there is violence and conflict," the provincial of the order Luc Lefief was quoted as saying by the Belga news agency.

"Everyone understands that father Guy prefers not to make any comments at the moment," he said.