Rwandan ex-pastor denies 1994 genocide role as trial opens

Jean Bosco Uwinkindi (second left), the first genocide suspect that the UN-backed tribunal for Rwanda transferred to the central African country, arrives in Kigali on April 19, 2012. — AFP pic
Jean Bosco Uwinkindi (second left), the first genocide suspect that the UN-backed tribunal for Rwanda transferred to the central African country, arrives in Kigali on April 19, 2012. — AFP pic

KIGALI, May 14 — A former Pentecostal pastor pleaded not guilty to genocide in Rwanda today, as his trial opened in Kigali following his transfer home from a UN-backed court.

“I did not commit the crimes mentioned by the prosecution, I’m a victim of genocide,” Jean-Bosco Uwinkindi told the High Court, without elaborating.

Uwinkindi was pastor of the Pentecostal church outside the capital during the genocide, and is accused of leading a group of Hutu extremists on a hunt to murder Tutsi civilians.

Prosecutor Jean Bosco Mutangana said Uwinkindi was charged with “genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity” during the 100-day massacre that began in April 1994 and left 800,000 dead.

After he was arrested in Uganda in 2010, he was first sent to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania, before being handed back to face justice in Rwanda in April 2012.

The UN-backed court in Arusha was set up to try the main perpetrators of the 1994 genocide but is now winding down its operations.

While the masterminds have been tried at the ICTR, other perpetrators have been tried either in the Rwandan court system or before the grass roots tribunals. — AFP

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