17 January 2013

Rwanda: Court Ruling Stays Uwinkindi Trial

The Special Chamber of the High Court has stayed the Genocide trial of Jean Bosco Uwinkindi.

Uwinkindi, who appeared before the court, yesterday, for the ruling, left smiling after his defence team convinced the Judge Alice Rulisa the trial before the Special Chambers would be a nullity owing to the matter before the superior court.

Uwinkindi last year filed a plea related to the case in the Supreme Court, challenging the law related to the transfer of cases from ICTR and other countries to Rwanda, saying it contradicts the Constitution.

His lawyer, Jean Baptise Niyibizi, said the Gacaca law puts Uwinkindi's case in a category that should be tried by the primary court and not the Special Chamber of the High Court.

Appearing before the Special Chambers of the High Court on Monday, Uwinkindi argued that he had filed a plea in the Supreme Court, which he said called for a stay of his trial until the superior court rules on the case.

Judge Rulisa reminded Uwinkindi that to request a delay, he was required to file a documented submission to the court and share it with the prosecution side so that they can respond to it.

Arguing the plea

During the Tuesday hearing, his lawyers, Gatera Gashabana and Jean Baptise Niyibizi, argued that the law suspends any trial in other courts when a suspect has filed a case in Supreme Court over unconstitutionality.

Prosecutor-General Martin Ngoga had contended that for the High Court to decide over the delay, the defence should have submitted their file. Yesterday, the defence team completed the paper work, convincing the judge to grant a stay of the trial pending the Supreme Court disposal of the plea before it.

The ruling of the Supreme Court is due February 2, and Uwinkindi's trial will resume on March 4.

Uwinkindi, 62, was transferred to Rwanda from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

He was arrested on June 30, 2010, in Uganda while travelling from DR Congo, and transferred to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, for trial. He was transferred to Rwanda on April 19, 2012, becoming the first accused at the ICTR to be handed over to the Rwandan justice system.

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