Arusha, October 16, 2012 (FH) – Kigali Tuesday denied reports that Pastor Jean Uwinkindi's defence lack funds to conduct investigations and find witnesses. Uwinkindi is the first accused to be transferred to Rwanda by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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Uwinkindi's lead counsel Gatera Gashabana has raised concerns over lack of funds, according to ICTR monitor Anees Ahmed. But Rwandan Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga said Tuesday there was no such shortage of means.

“The government knows its obligation to facilitate the defence under the legal aid scheme,” Ngoga told Hirondelle by phone. “Any defence activity which will be allowed by the court to be undertaken will be paid for. There is no shortage of funds for that.”

"If the defence wants to undertake any activity, they should apply to the court,” Ngoga told Hirondelle. He said there was no such request pending before the judge, and that “there is no need to sound the alarm over issues that have not yet been raised with our authority.”

While in the custody of the ICTR Pastor Uwinkindi, as an indigent accused, benefited from the Tribunal's legal aid program. Before the Rwandan judiciary, the cost of his defence is to be paid by the government.

Uwinkindi's Rwandan lawyer Gatera Gashabana claims, according to the monitor's report, that legal aid provided to him and his co-counsel covers only provision of services. It does not permit the hiring of investigative personnel or expenses for identifying potential witnesses, taking their statements and ensuring their availability before the court.

An ICTR Referral Chamber ordered Uwinkindi's case to be referred to Rwanda for trial in June last year, and the Appeals Chamber confirmed the decision in December 2011. Uwinkindi was transferred to Rwanda on April 19, 2012.

Two ICTR staff members were appointed to monitor the referral cases on an interim basis, pending final agreement with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to undertake monitoring.

Pastor Uwinkindi is charged with genocide and extermination. He was born in Rutsiro commune, Kibuye prefecture (western Rwanda), in 1951. The prosecution, according to the monitor's report, has indicated its readiness for trial.