Genocide fugitives

Uwinkindi given 30 more days to start his defense

Jean Uwinkindi leaves court after a past appearance. The New Times/File

The High Court on Friday approved one more month for a team of defense lawyers for Jean Uwinkindi to finish interviewing 38 Rwanda-based witnesses and start defending the accused.

After missing the deadline of October 3 because of financial constraints, defense lawyers Gatera Gashabana and Jean Niyibizi now have until November 11 to file their client’s initial defense, presiding judge Justice Alice Rulisa has ruled.

Uwinkindi is a 61-year-old former pastor with a Pentecostal Church in Kanzenze in current Bugesera District who stands accused of Genocide, conspiracy to commit Genocide and extermination as well as crimes against humanity.

His trial was supposed to start in substance on Friday, but his lawyers said that they needed more time in order to reach out to defense witnesses as they wait to receive some of the funds the government has allocated to their investigations. The government foots the bill for the work of the defense lawyers since their client is considered indigent.

Gashabana told court that the Ministry of Justice had already deposited the funds needed for the defense’s investigations to the Bar Association. But he indicated that more administrative procedures had to be undertaken before Uwinkindi’s defense lawyers could access the funds.

Justice Rulisa urged the lawyers to conduct their investigations as soon as they receive the money and file their defense not later than November 11.

Uwinkindi was transferred to Rwanda from the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in April this year upon a request for him to be tried by the Rwandan judiciary.

His defense lawyers have revealed that they will interview 70 defense witnesses, including 32 living outside the country.

First appeared in the New Times

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