Rwandan Pastor gets life sentence for genocide-era crimes

    Jean Uwinkindi
    Jean Uwinkindi

    By Reuters

    A Rwandan pastor accused of leading and coordinating attacks on minority Tutsis during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide has been sentenced to life imprisonment, Rwanda’s high court said on Wednesday.  He was convicted for the crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the slaughter. 

    An estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by militias from the dominant Hutu forces in 100 days in the genocide.

    Former Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, 64, once led the Kayenzi Pentecostal church in former Rural Kigali Prefecture (now Bugesera District) during the 1994 Genocide. Uwinkindi was arrested on June 30, 2010, in Kampala, Uganda. On July 2, 2010, he was transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha. Uwinkindi pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

    The following year his case was referred from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Tanzania, to the Rwandan national court system. It was the first such referral. He was the first genocide suspect to be sent back to Rwanda for trial by the Tanzanian-based UN tribunal. 

    “The court finds that there were killings of the Tutsis at Rwankeri and Kanzenze hills and that the attacks were led by Uwinkindi,” said Judge Kanyegeri Timothee.

    The court said he committed the crimes between April and May in 1994.

    “I want it recorded that I appeal and that five major reasons were not considered (during the trial),” Uwinkindi told the court.

    The tribunal sentenced 61 individuals and acquitted 14 others. 

    Uwinkindi said he planned to appeal.


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