The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has confirmed a decision allowing genocide suspect Pastor Jean Uwinkindi to be transferred to Rwanda for trial.
In a ruling on December 16, this year, the court dismissed Uwinkindi’s appeal against a June 28 decision of the lower court, which granted the prosecutor's request for the transfer.
However, the Appeals Court stayed the transfer of Uwinkindi to Rwanda pending acceptance by the Chamber of a corrected indictment. In an earlier ruling, the court highlighted what it referred to as 'defects' in the indictment, calling on the prosecutor to provide more information on certain points.
“The Appeals Chamber considers it important that these defects be remedied prior to Uwinkindi’s transfer to Rwanda so that the Rwandan Prosecutor General’s Office may file its own adapted indictment,” it ruled.
The decision comes more than two years after the ICTR Appeals Court refused the transfer to Rwanda of five genocide cases, on grounds that the accused may not receive a fair trial.
However, in its June 28 decision, the lower court said that Rwanda had made material changes in its law and had indicated its capacity and willingness to prosecute cases referred by ICTR adhering to internationally recognized fair trial standards. It nevertheless called for the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) to monitor Uwinkindi’s trial in Rwanda.
The court also warned that it had "authority under Rule 11 to revoke the case from Rwanda as a last resort if necessary".
The Appeals Court ruling said that such trial monitoring reports should be submitted on a monthly basis, unless decided otherwise either by ICTR president or the Residual Mechanism, which is due to take over the ICTR's remaining work next July.
Head of the Prosecutor's Appeals and Legal Advisory Division James
Arguin, welcomed the Appeals Court ruling.
“We are pleased with the decision as it conforms to our request,” he said.
“It provides a road map for future referrals. It provides perimeters within which cases will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis for transfer,” he added.
The ruling could open the way for other cases to be transferred to Rwanda. The prosecutor has already requested the transfer of alleged militia leader Bernard Munyagishari, who is in ICTR custody, as well as the cases of two fugitives: former judicial police inspector Fulgence Kayishema and former mayor Charles Sikubwabo.
Uwinkindi, born 1951 in western Rwanda, is charged with genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. He is accused of using his church as a sanctuary for killers and a place for slaughtering Tutsis in 1994.