18.02.11 - ICTR/UWINKINDI - A THIRD FRIEND OF COURT TO BE HEARD IN UWINKINDI REFERRAL PROCEEDINGS

Arusha, February 18, 2011 (FH) - The International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association (ICDAA) will be heard as the third friend of court in the application for referral of case to Rwanda for trial involving genocide-suspect, Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, currently detained at the UN Detention Facility in Arusha.
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The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has already allowed Human Rights Watch (HRW) to appear in Uwinkindi's case as amicus curiae (friend of court) and has also invited the government of Rwanda to submit its amicus curie brief in the matter.

Following such decisions, a referral bench has directed the ICDAA to file its brief by March 11, 2011.  On November 4, 2010, the Prosecutor of ICTR Hassan Jallow filed three new applications for referral of cases to Rwanda for trial involving Uwinkindi and two others, Fulgence Kayishema and Charles Sikubwabo, who are still on the run.

However, proceedings involving Kayishema, former judicial police inspector of Kivumu commune in Kibuye prefecture (Western Rwanda) and Sikubwabo, ex-mayor of Gishyita commune in the same prefecture, have already been deferred pending their arrest or final determination of Uwinkindi's case.

In the case of Uwinkindi, the referral bench has requested the Rwandan government to answer nine questions to assess whether the accused would receive a fair trial.

The questions include whether Rwandan legal system was able in practice to provide the accused adequate legal representation, financial support to an indigent accused and facilitate security, travel and investigations for defence.

It also seeks to know whether there were any impediments defence may face in discharging its function and what facilities and procedures exist for ensuring witnesses and victims are securely and safely accommodated and transported to trial place.

The bench wants to know whether Rwanda's witness protection programme functional was in practice, the detention facilities for accused persons comply with international standard and were there any threats the prosecution or defence witnesses could face before, during and after testifying.

The first five similar applications filed in 2007 were rejected because the Chambers were of the view that the accused would not receive fair trials in Rwanda as a result of the laws in existence in the country at that time.

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