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Former Rwanda pastor pleads not guilty to genocide charges

Former Rwandan pastor Jean-Bosco Uwinkindi [Hague Justice profile; case materials] appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] on Friday and pleaded not guilty [press release] to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity relating to the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Uwinkindi was indicted [indictment, PDF] by the ICTR in 2001 and has been charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. The indictment alleges that Uwinkindi collaborated with the extremist National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) party in order to kill Tutsis. He allegedly led a group of Hutus to look for and kill a group of Tutsi settlers and conspired with members of the militia to kill Tutsis who sought protection in the church where he was the pastor. According to the indictment, approximately 2,000 bodies were found near the church where the violence occurred. Uwinkindi had been one of the ICTR's most wanted suspects, with a $5 million reward being offered [BBC report] for information leading to his capture. He was apprehended [JURIST report] last month by Ugandan authorities and transferred to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, where he will stand trial.

Ugandan officials arrested another highly-sought genocide suspect last October when they apprehended [JURIST report] former Hutu intelligence chief Idelphonse Nizeyimana [BBC profile; case materials]. Nizeyimana, who has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report], was charged [indictment, PDF] with four counts of genocide, or, in the alternative, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity, and is still awaiting trial. Nizeyimana was one of four top accused sought by the ICTR in order to complete its mission. Last month, the UN Security Council [official website] extended the terms [press release] for ICTR trial judges until December 31, 2011, and for appellate judges until December 31, 2012, or until they complete their cases. In March 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon pledged his ongoing support [JURIST report] for the ICTR and stressed that the international community must continue to combat genocide. The ICTR was established to try genocide suspects for crimes occurring during the 1994 Rwandan conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in which approximately 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, died.

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