Arusha, April 19, 2012 (FH) – Pentecostal Pastor Jean Uwinkindi is one of seven religious leaders indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for playing a leading role in genocide. The others include an Anglican bishop, a Seventh Day Adventist and four Catholic priests.  Only one has been acquitted, while one died before his trial began.

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Uwinkindi was born in Rutsiro commune, in northwest Rwanda. He had no schooling and speaks neither English nor French, the official languages of the ICTR. After being a religious instructor at the Pentecostal church in his home area, he was promoted to Pastor, serving in the prefectures of Bugesera and Kibungo. At the time of the 1994 genocide he was Pastor in charge of the parish of Kayenzi. The ICTR has indicted him for genocide and extermination for allegedly supervising or personally participating in murders of Tutsis. On Thursday he became the first detainee of the UN court to be transferred for trial in Rwanda. 

Anglican bishop Samuel Musabyimana is the highest level churchman to be indicted by the Tribunal but died in January 2003 before his trial had opened. He had pleaded not-guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in his diocese of Shogwe. Musabyimana was arrested in Kenya in 2001. 

Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana also died, aged 83, in January 2007, just after he had finished serving a 10-year jail sentence. He had been suffering from cancer for several years, according to relatives. Ntakirutimana was convicted for his role in massacres of Tutsis at the Adventist complex in Mugonero, western Rwanda, along with his doctor son Gérard who is still in jail. 

Father Athanase Seromba is one of the most infamous of the four catholic priests indicted. He is serving a life sentence in Benin for ordering the bulldozing of his church in Nyange (western Rwanda) in mid-April 1994 with some 2,000 Tutsi refugees inside. 

Father Emmanuel Rukundo, a military priest, is serving a 23 year sentence in Mali. He was found guilty of working with soldiers and Interahamwe militia to kill Tutsis who had taken refuge in the Saint Léon seminary in Kabgayi (central Rwanda), and for sexually assaulting a Tutsi woman. He was arrested in Switzerland in 2001. 

The only one to have been acquitted by the ICTR is Father Hormisdas Nsengimana, who was Rector of the Christ the King College in Nyanza (southern Rwanda). He had been accused of overseeing killings of Tutsis in the college and its surroundings, including the murders of women and other priests. However, the court acquitted him in November 2009 on grounds that there was not enough evidence. The prosecutor did not appeal. He went to join a parish in northern Italy in March 2010. He had been arrested in Cameroon eight years earlier. 

The remaining priest to be indicted by the ICTR is Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, formerly in charge of the Sainte Famille parish in Kigali. His case was referred to France in November 2007, but it is different from Uwinkindi's in that Munyeshyaka lives in France and has never been held by the ICTR. He is still under investigation by the French authorities. According to the ICTR indictment, he is charged with genocide, murder, extermination and rape.