The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), yesterday, made the final ruling on the referral of Jean Uwinkindi to Rwanda, to stand trial after losing an appeal against the transfer.
The decision, which legal analysts have termed as ‘ground-breaking’, was reached by the Tanzania-based UN tribunal’s Appeals Chamber, upholding an earlier ruling by the Referral Chamber.
This unprecedented ruling cannot be appealed against in any jurisdiction, meaning his transfer to Rwanda, which is in line with the tribunal’s completion strategy, is imminent.
“The decision has been communicated to us by the ICTR Prosecutor and this is definitely good news in terms of precedence for similar decisions in the future,” said Bosco Siboyintore, the head of the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit, GFTU.
He said that the decision will provide jurisprudence that will guide the extradition cases of other suspects held in other jurisdictions, especially in Europe.
Aldo Havugimana, a Genocide survivor from the Southern Province, said the decision, though welcome, is long overdue.
“We have witnessed wonders that have been performed by our judiciary over the years, which has done a lot not only in dispensing justice, but also promoting reconciliation,” said Havugimana, who heads the Huye-based Radio Salus.
Uwinkindi, who was arrested in Uganda before he was transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, is accused of masterminding the Genocide, mainly at the Pentecostal Church in Kayenzi, now in Bugesera District.
He is accused of unleashing militiamen on refugees, mostly members of his church, who had sought refuge at the church he headed, and of himself participating in killing of members of his congregation.
“I know that man, we were neighbours in Kayenzi where he led brutal attacks on refugees at his church; he even killed in the neighbouring villages such as Ntarama,” Benoit Kaboyi, a survivor from Nyamata Sector, said in an earlier interview.
Kaboyi, who is also a former executive secretary of the Genocide survivors’ umbrella Ibuka, said that transferring Uwinkindi to Rwanda for trial is the best way of dispensing justice to the survivors who suffered at his hands.
According to Janvier Folongo, the current executive secretary of Ibuka, the decision is a relief, because it will make it easy for witnesses, both for defence and prosecution.
“We are optimistic justice will be served...The proximity of the trial will make it easier for everyone, this is whether Genocide was committed, it is the scene of crime,” said Folongo.
Established in December 1994, by the UN Security Council, to try masterminds of the Genocide, the tribunal is expected to fold business come 2014.Follow https://twitter.com/kimenyif