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DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - A priest accused of genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1994 Rwandan genocide has been acquitted, the second release in as many days, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said on Tuesday.
The U.N. court ordered the immediate release of Father Hormisdas Nsengimana, who was a priest at a Catholic secondary school during the three months of slaughter of some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus in 1994.
The court said it could not conclude that Nsengimana, 55, was guilty of any of the crimes, which included killing Tutsi priests, a judge and other Tutsi victims.
"The Chamber did not find a sufficient factual and legal basis for concluding that Nsengimana was guilty of any of the crimes," the tribunal said.
The prosecution said Nsengimana was at the centre of a group of Hutu extremists that planned and carried out targeted attacks and participated directly in killings.
Nsengimana has been in prison since his arrest in Cameroon in 2002. He is the second indicted person to be released by the ICTR, based in Arusha in northern Tanzania, in as many days.
On Monday an appeals chamber acquitted Protais Zigiranyirazo, known as "Mr. Z," of genocide and extermination after he was previously sentenced to 20 years.
Judges reversed the conviction citing several serious factual and legal errors.
ICTR spokesman Roland Amoussouga told Reuters the acquittals were not a disappointment for the court.
"It's not a sign of a problem," he said by telephone. "This is to show you that the justice system is not one way -- it can go both ways.
He said that so far 39 people have been convicted of 47 cases.
"It's an incredible record of efficiency on the part of the prosecution. This is the first stage of the process, now we have to see whether the prosecution will appeal today's judgement," he said.
(Reporting by Katrina Manson; Editing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura)

Reuters