Rwandan genocide: court sentences pastor to life in prison

Jean Uwinkindi

Jean Uwinkindi

The Rwandan High court has handed a life sentence to a former Pentecostal pastor, Jean Uwinkindi, who has been on trial for genocide crimes committed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

The court, this Wednesday found Uwinkindi guilty of all counts but his defense team, which accuses Rwanda’s bar association of lack of fair justice and facilitation, has sworn to fight the appeal battle which is set for next year.

“My client didn’t get a fair trial throughout this case. We are looking at the appeal trial to change this verdict” Uwinkindi’s lawyer, Joseph Ngabonziza said in a statement.

Uwikindi was Head Pastor at Kayenzi ADEPR Church, in Nyamata Sector, now Bugesera district where several massacres were committed by Christians against fellow faithful under his orders.

The former pastor has been facing charges of committing genocide crimes, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as crime against humanity, and forming roadblock targeting Tutsi civilians and preaching in church with intent mobilize citizens to commit genocide.

He was arrested in Uganda’s South Western Isingiro district, sin June 2010 and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) transferred his case to Kigali on April 19, 2012, following a long legal battle by lawyers of the Pentecostal pastor and Rwanda’s prosecution.

Since his extradition, Uwikindi case has been marred with several setbacks as the suspect accused the Rwandan judiciary of unfair justice especially not providing him with legal support, and asking the ICTR to regain custody of the case.

This sentence comes just barely two months after the ICTR overruled Uwinkindi’s appeal to the UN court, saying the decision against revocation was reached after a thorough scrutiny of Rwanda’s judicial competence.

“Rwanda Bar Association has put in place a roster of over 60 qualified lawyers to represent indigent persons in international crime cases which is more than sufficient for Uwinkindi or any other accused person to choose from,” ICTR said of Rwanda’s legal system.

Meanwhile, last weekend Zambia deported two refugees suspected to have participated in the genocide, and this week a German court sentenced a genocide fugitive Onesphore Rwabukombe to life in prison for his role in the 1994 killings.