Pastor Uwinkindi questions his arrest warrant
Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, the Genocide suspect who was recently sent by the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to be tried in domestic courts, has yesterday appeared in Nyarugenge Intermediate Court to appeal to be released on bail.
He is also accused of committing different other crimes against humanity.
Prosecutor Elie Ndibwami Rugambwa drew up a 300-page document containing testimonies from multiple witnesses, which showed how Pastor Uwinkindi had called for people to find refuge in his church and then ordained their killings with traditional weapons. The documents say that he himself even participated in the murders. The prosecutor gave the example of a Tutsi that Uwinkindi executed by a machete.
“When I reached the church, I found Uwinkindi there. He had a machete and a spear. He was with a group of militias that he used to lead in hunting Tutsis in the bush”, said another witness.
The prosecutor said Uwinkindi used to hold regular meetings in his compound with an Interahamwe group called “power.” He allegedly asked guns from policemen, with a help of local politicians of the region — bourgmestres and sous-préfets. Witnesses added that Uwinkindi also used to hold anti-Tutsi preaches in his church.
Pastor Uwinkindi has denied all the accusations. “It is shame that prosecution links me to be the leader of security forces while I am not even an agent; there is no section of security in my church. For a man who hasn’t even completed high school, how could I chair the meetings of local authorities?”
He appealed to be released on bail and said that there is no reason that he would be locked up. His lawyers said that, as a pastor from a well known church, he can’t run away from justice.
Arrest warrant brings concern
The pastor claimed also that the warrant that brought him to justice wasn’t intended to arrest him because he’s called Jean-Bosco Uwinkindi — not Jean Uwinkindi. He pleaded innocent saying that he’s apprehended under mistaken identity.
“In fact I am appearing in the name of someone else”, he said. “I think it is for that reason that the ICTR was hastening the decision to send me to Rwanda, because they had found they couldn’t judge me in the name of someone else, but now that the prosecution wants me to appear as Jean Uwinkindi, this is injustice”.
While his lawyers, Jean-Bosco Niyibizi and Gatera Gashabana, argued that the name should have been corrected before the arrest warrant was issued, the prosecution said the mistake doesn’t remove the fact that he is the real suspect.
Another issue that raised concern was the condition of detention of Uwinkindi. It was decided by both ICTR and prosecution in Rwanda, that by sending him in Rwanda for trial, Uwinkindi had to benefit from international standards detention. The parties agreed they were to host him in Kigali central prison, but in special detention conditions. “That’s why he appears in court not wearing prisoners’ uniform”, said the prosecution.
The presiding judge John Busingye announced the court verdict is scheduled on August 29 at 2 pm.
Aged 61, Pastor Uwinkindi was arrested on June 30, 2010 in Uganda and transferred to the ICTR in Arusha two days later. On April 19, he was transferred to Rwanda as the first genocide suspect deported from the tribunal to be tried in domestic courts.