The first ever detainee to be transferred to Rwanda by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) arrived in Kigali Thursday night. Our reporter was at the airport in Kigali.
Genocide suspect, Jean Uwinkindi, arrived in Kigali in a rainstorm and a crowd of reporters. Uwinkindi was flown from Arusha, Tanzania to Rwanda after judges of the ICTR Appeals Chamber issued a ruling Thursday denying an urgent motion for a stay of his transfer.
The head of Rwanda’s Genocide Fugitive tracking Unit, Jean Siboyintore, says the transfer could not have come soon enough.
“This is a good development by the tribunal. It is the first of its kind. It has been long overdue. But it is a decision that we will count from the day it was pronounced on [the] 28th of June of 2011. So we still welcome this decision because it has a lot of meaning in terms of legal precedent, in terms of legal jurisprudence which other countries will have to refer to," said Siboyintore.
Uwinkindi was a church pastor in Rwanda during the 1994 Genocide which took the lives of at least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. He is accused of leading a group of Hutu extremists looking for Tutsi civilians to murder. He was arrested in Uganda in June of 2010. His indictment includes counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity.
James Arguin is Chief of the Appeals within the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTR and was at the Kigali Airport when Uwinkindi arrived. He says the decision to transfer him to Rwanda has already had an affect on extradition cases in other countries.
“I mean if you look at the decisions from the European court of human rights, the courts in Norway, Canada and others and most recently there’s the decision in France, all of which cited the ICTR’s decisions in Uwinkindi as precedent for extradition cases because, I think the standards of the two, although they’re different, what they’re looking at under most of those articles are fair trial concerns," said Arguin.
Uwinkindi is expected to make his first appearance in a Rwandan court next week.