January 20, 2015 / 6:17 PM / 5 years ago

Burundi arrests journalist tied to suspect in Italian nun killings

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) - The host of a popular radio show in Burundi was arrested on Tuesday and accused by prosecutors of helping to conceal the identity of a guest who said he was involved in last September’s murder of three Italian nuns, his lawyer said.

Two of the nuns, Lucia Pulici, 75, and Olga Raschietti, 82, were found partially decapitated in their dormitory, while a third, 79-year-old Bernadetta Boggian, was found dead the following day.

Prosecutors ordered Bob Rugurika, from Radio Publique Africaine, to identify the interview subject who said he took part in the killings north of the capital, Bujumbura.

The guest also identified others suspected of involvement in the killings, including former and serving intelligence and police officers, but did not provide any evidence.

“My client refused to reveal his source, explaining to the prosecutor that it is not his job to arrest criminals,” the lawyer, Lambert Nigarura, told reporters.

He said Rugurika was accused of complicity in assassination, violating the secrecy of an investigation and lack of public solidarity.

Pierre Claver Mbonimba, head of the Association for the Defence of Human Rights and Prisoners, condemned the arrest saying Rugurika “has done his job as a journalist”.

Soon after the killings, police arrested a 33-year-old, saying he had been discovered with a blood-stained stone, which they think was used as a murder weapon, and a key, which they believe he used to enter the convent. That separate case is still proceeding.

According to Burundian criminal law, Rugurika will be brought before a panel of judges within one week to decide whether he will be kept in detention or freed.

Editing by Edith Honan and Alison Williams

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