The Kigali-based High Court yesterday refused to grant provisional liberation to the Genocide suspect Jean Uwinkindi. He was remanded for 30 days in prison by Nyarugenge intermediate court on August 29, but the accused had appealed against the decision.
At the intermediate court, Uwinkindi had requested for a provisional liberation, but the prosecution had opposed the request saying that it was likely he would try to escape. The prosecution pointed out that Uwinkindi was arrested in Uganda after more than 10 years in hiding; he was arrested in 2010 and brought to the Arusha tribunal until he was transferred to Rwanda in April this year.
The judge at the High Court said that the fact that Uwinkindi had been detained at the ICTR for two years before his transfer shows that his case is too serious to merit provisional liberation. “The court rules that the provisional detention remains unchanged; thus the accused is remanded for 30 days in prison,” the judge said.
The former Pentecostal pastor for his part claims he was brought to justice under a false arrest warrant intended to arrest someone else named Jean Bosco Uwinkindi instead of Jean Uwinkindi, but the court rejected the argument saying that the ICTR had already changed the name on the warrant arrest by dropping ‘Bosco.‘
On the concerns that the accused was detained at Kigali central prison instead of a special transit facility – which is also hosted the prison services – the judge said that Uwinkindi failed to prove that he was detained at the Kigali prison.
“The court could not really know whether Uwinkindi was kept in the central prison,” he said, adding that it was agreed that the police be granted the special transit facility at the prison. The facility was also approved by ICTR delegates. The facility, meeting required standards, was designated to host suspects transferred from the ICTR or other jurisdictions.
A distinctive law concerning the transfer of Genocide suspects, Uwinkindi inclusive, from the ICTR to Rwanda provides that suspects be tried by a special chamber of the High Court.
Uwinkindi, 61, a former pastor with the Pentecostal Church in the former Kanzenze commune, currently in Bugesera district, is charged with Genocide and other crimes against humanity.
He 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.