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UN genocide tribunal refers case to Rwandan court system for first time

UN genocide tribunal refers case to Rwandan court system for first time

ICTR staff outside Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania
The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up to try masterminds of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda today for the first time referred a case to be tried by the country’s national judicial system.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) referred the case of Jean Uwinkindi, a former pastor, who is accused of being responsible for attacks of ethnic Tutsis in his church in the Kigali-Rural prefecture and other areas during the genocide.

The ICTR’s referral chamber said it was convinced that, based on evidence, Rwanda had the ability to accept and prosecute Mr. Uwinkindi’s case.

“In reaching its decision, the chamber noted that Rwanda had made material changes in its laws and had indicated its capacity and willingness to prosecute cases referred by ICTR adhering to internationally recognized fair trial standards enshrined in the ICTR Statute and other human rights instruments,” the tribunal said in a statement to the media.

The chamber said it had found that issues which concerned previous referral chamber, including the availability of witnesses and their protection, had been addressed to some degree.

It requested the registrar of ICTR to appoint the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to monitor Mr. Uwinkindi’s trial in Rwanda and bring to the attention of the tribunal’s president any potential issues that may arise in the course of the trial.

Mr. Uwinkindi’s indictment includes counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity. He was arrested in Uganda in June last year and transferred to the ICTR detention facility in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, where the tribunal is based.