UN Tribunal Transfers First Genocide Suspect to Rwanda

Posted April 19th, 2012 at 6:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has for the first time transferred a genocide suspect back to the central African country to face trial.

Genocide suspect Jean Uwinkindi arrived in Kigali late Thursday from Arushu, Tanzania, where the U.N. tribunal is based. The transfer came after ICTR judges denied a motion blocking his transfer. Uwinkindi's lawyers had argued that he would not receive a fair trial in Rwanda, where he worked as a pastor during the 1994 genocide.

The head of Rwanda's Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit, Jean Siboyintore, applauded the ICTR's decision to transfer Uwinkindi, calling it “the first of its kind.”

James Arguin, chief of appeals with the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTR, was at the Kigali airport when Uwinkindi arrived. Arguin says the decision to transfer Uwinkindi to Rwanda has become the precedent for similar extradition cases involving genocide suspects in countries including Norway, Canada and France.

Uwinkindi was arrested in Uganda in June of 2010. He is accused of leading a group of Hutu extremists looking for Tutsi civilians to murder. His indictment includes counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity, charges he has denied.

Uwinkindi is expected to make his first appearance in a Rwandan court next week.

The ICTR was established to try those considered most responsible for the 1994 genocide. Extremist Hutus killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during a three-month killing spree.

The tribunal is set to wind up its work in 2014.