Arusha, April 17, 2012 (FH) – With only 24 hours remaining for the ordered transfer of Pastor Jean Uwinkindi to Rwanda, his lawyer has petitioned the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to stay the referral, citing recent developments in opposition leader Victoire Ingabire’s case before the High Court in Rwanda.

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 In a motion filed on Tuesday, the lawyer Claver Sindayigaya seeks an interim stay of transfer of the accused, pending filing of another request to challenge the confirmation of the referral decision. He cites notes of proceedings in Ingabire’s case that were passed to him by her lawyer, Iain Edwards, suggesting intimidation of defence witnesses. Edwards is a British barrister, formerly assigned to the defence team for Uwinkindi before the Tribunal.

Sindayigaya alleges that compelling evidence has come to the light that the prosecution authority has acted in a manner inconsistent with respect for the defendant’s fair trial and, at the same time, the High Court before which Uwinkindi’s case would be heard has permitted such serious violations of rights to go unchecked.

“It is submitted that there are now powerful reasons based on very recent developments in the case of Victoire Ingabire before the High Court in Rwanda that permit the defence to file a second extremely urgent motion for reconsideration on the grounds that it is necessary to do so to prevent an injustice.

“The injustice that is to be prevented is the transfer of the accused to the Republic of Rwanda for trial; there is new and compelling evidence that provides strong grounds to believe that the accused will be deprived of a fair trial in Rwanda,” reads part of the motion.

Uwinkindi’s request comes just two days before the Rwandan pastor is due to be moved to Rwanda for prosecution of his case. On April 5, 2012, the President of the Tribunal, Judge Vagn Joensen, ruled that Uwinkindi should be transferred to Rwanda within 14 days of the decision. The period is due to expire on Thursday, April 19.

A Referral Chamber ordered the transfer of Uwinkindi on June 28, 2011. The ruling was confirmed on appeal on December 16, 2011. The first defence motion for reconsideration of such decision was dismissed by the Appeals Chamber on February 23, 2012.

Reacting to the motion, the Rwandan Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga said “it is suspicious. The lawyer (Iain Edwards) is involved in both cases. He may have planned Ingabire’s behavior before the High Court to justify the motion before the ICTR.”

Ingabire, who was a candidate for Rwanda’s August 2010 presidential election, on Monday walked out of her trial to protest what she called repeated violation of her rights. Charges against her include provoking divisionism and forming an armed group with the aim of destabilizing the country.

Pastor Uwinkindi is charged with genocide and extermination. He was born in Rutsiro commune, Kibuye prefecture (West Rwanda) in 1951. The defendant was arrested in connection with the charges on June 30, 2010 in Uganda and transferred to the seat of ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, two days later.