Court rejects Uwinkindi appeal over transfer law
The Supreme Court in Kigali has ruled that genocide perpetrator,Pastor Jean Uwinkindi was not discriminated against when his trial was taken up by the High court. Uwinkindi was transferred to Rwanda by the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) in 2012.
The High Court ruling stated that the constitution did not contradict the law governing case transfers from ICTR and other countries. Uwinkindi has the right to appeal the Court’s decision at the same court.
Uwinkindi Jean was sent to Rwanda under the transfer law. 62 year old Uwinkindi Jean is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. He is accused of having Tutsi members of his Kazenze parish in eastern Rwanda massacred in 1994.
In the petition he filed before the Supreme Court, Uwinkindi argued that he should instead be tried by a primary court.
Article 1 of this particular law, stipulates that such transfer cases should be tried before the High Court, The other law is the one related to the law on ending the semi-traditional Gacaca courts, which states that primary courts can try genocide suspects who did not hold leadership positions at national or regional level at the time of the 1994 genocide.
Pastor Uwinkindi, in his petition requested for the scrapping of article one of the law on transfers, arguing that it discriminates and violets his rights and denies him right to appear before a judge the constitution provides. He therefore said that this article is unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court ruled that Uwinkindi’s argument lacked basis. With the help of different laws and previous recommendations by international human rights groups, the word discrimination was exhaustively explained.
The court said that a suspect can be categorized in public interest and under undisputed reason, thus it cannot be considered discrimination.
The Supreme Court argued that genocide suspects were categorized in attempt to offer equitable justice and to accelerate trials.
The Supreme Court also noted that genocide suspects transferred from the ICTR and other countries will be tried before the High Court instead of lower courts.
The panel of judges headed by Chief Justice Prof.Sam Rugege during the petition hearing was comprised of 9 jurists. Prof.Sam Rugege said that all the jury concurred with the verdict.
Jean Uwinkindi was a Pentecostal pastor of the Association of Pentecostal Churches in Rwanda (ADEPR) and is one of the top genocide suspects who is accused of mobilized residents, including his Christians to participate in the Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
Residents, who survived the genocide, say the pastor ordered Hutus Christians to get involved in the killings, placed roadblocks all over the church area, and personally put his hand in the genocide crimes committed against the Tutsi in the area.
Pastor Uwikindi was arrested in Uganda in Isingiro district, southwest Uganda, at the end of June 2010. He is charged with the crimes of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as crime against humanity and alleged to have committed the crimes in Kigal Rural Prefecture between April and July 1994, where he participated in the massacre at Kayenzi Church, (now Bugesera district) that resulted in the death of thousands of innocent victims.