Uwinkindi’s defence wants Rwf100m to meet witnesses

Lawyers representing Genocide suspect Jean Bosco Uwinkindi have asked for six months to meet his witnesses.The defence team told the High Court, yesterday, at the resumption of the trial that they also want Rwf103 million to facilitate the meeting with the witnesses.
Uwinkindi is led out of the court in May. The New Times/ File.
Uwinkindi is led out of the court in May. The New Times/ File.

Lawyers representing Genocide suspect Jean Bosco Uwinkindi have asked for six months to meet his witnesses.

The defence team told the High Court, yesterday, at the resumption of the trial that they also want Rwf103 million to facilitate the meeting with the witnesses.

The figure includes more than Rwf60 million pay for the defence  lawyers.

Uwinkindi, 61, a former pastor with a Pentecostal Church in Kanzenze, Bugesera District, was charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as well as crimes against humanity.

He was transferred to Rwanda from International Court Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania, on April 19, last year. His trial was postponed by the High Court on May 16, after his lawyers said they needed to first reach witnesses to prepare defence.

Yesterday, court heard that Uwinkindi’s defence lawyers Gatera Gashabana and Jean Baptiste Niyibizi wrote to the Bar Association and the Ministry of Justice, asking for money to reach 70 witnesses, including 32 who are outside the country.

On May 22, they were asked to make a detailed budget for that work which they did.

But the defence, represented by Jean Niyibizi, said they are yet to get a response on their financial request.

“The trial cannot continue before hearing from the witnesses to corroborate our evidence for a strong defence,” Niyibizi said.

The Ministry of Justice is supposed to foot the bills because Uwinkindi is considered poor and his defence is catered for by the government.

However, in their submission, prosecution, represented by Jean Bosco Mutangana and Bonaventure Ruberwa, said defence had failed to submit their request before end of the 2012/13 fiscal year as it had been agreed with the Ministry of Justice and it was a delaying tactic which court should not entertain.

Moreover, said Ruberwa, the suspect in the trial is Uwinkindi, not the witnesses. The latter will come later, he added.

After the hearing, the defence agreed with presiding judge Alice Rulisa that the witnesses from within the country who do not require lots of logistics will be interviewed without waiting for the funds.

The court ruled that Uwinkindi will prepare his defence and submit it on October 3, for the trial to resume on October 11. 

Questioning defence performance

The prosecution faulted the defence team for allegedly failing to prepare during the window of waiting for funds.

Mutangana accused the defence lawyers of spending most of the time on meeting Uwinkindi in prison, instead of reaching their witnesses.

The court heard that every time a lawyer meets Uwinkindi in prison, they are paid Rwf120,000. 

But defence said their expenditure was on genuine issues, including Rwf40m that lawyers have so far been paid.

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