Arusha, July 9, 2010 (FH) - Rwandan Pentecostal Church Pastor and genocide-accused, Jean-Bosco Uwinkindi Friday pleaded not guilty  before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to crimes he allegedly committed in 1994.

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‘'I plead not guilty Mr. President,'' said Uwinkindi in Kinyarwanda in response to questions asked by Judge Dennis Byron who administered the initial appearance.   

The 59 year old pastor denied three charges including genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.

The accused, dressed in a pink shirt, blue tie with white strips and a coat larger than his size, denied one count after another while standing at the dock.

Pastor Uwinkindi was born in Rutsiro commune, Kibuye prefecture (west Rwanda) in 1951 is alleged to have led several attacks against Tutsis who took refuge in his own parish of Kayenzi, in Bugesera region (east Rwanda).

‘'In July 1994, when Pastor Uwinkindi fled Rwanda, approximately two thousand corpses were found near to the church of Kayenzi,'' elaborates part of the indictment issued in 2001.

The indictment also alleges that Pastor Uwinkindi collaborated with the then MRND ruling party before and during the genocide in 1994 to incite killings of Tutsis including those in Kanzenze commune.

He was arrested on June 30, 2010 in Uganda as he was coming into the country from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Recent reports hinted that he was looking for a farm in Mbarara in Uganda to settle there after he found that it was becoming more difficult to keep on hiding in DRC as he was one of the fugitives wanted by the ICTR.

The accused is the second genocide suspect to be arrested in Uganda in less than a year. In October 2009, Uganda apprehended, former Rwandan military officer, Captain Idelphonse Nizeyimana, after he entered the country from DRC.

His case is scheduled to begin in September.

Pastor Uwinkindi was assisted by a legal duty counsel, Tanzanian Francis Musei.


© Hirondelle News Agency