29.04.04 - ICTR/CYANGUGU - TWO PEOPLE RECENTLY ACQUITTED "SOON" TO FIND COUNTRY TO RESETTLE, SAYS IC

Arusha, April 29th, 2004 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), hopes to "soon" find countries to resettle the former minister of transport and communications, André Ntagerura, and the former Prefect of Cyangugu (south western Rwanda), Emmanuel Bagambiki who were acquitted February 25 by the Tribunal.

"Talks are going on with some countries and we are confident that we will soon get a favourable response", the spokesman of the ICTR, Roland Amoussouga declared Thursday by telephone from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

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As they wait for countries to receive them, the acquitted persons "are no longer held at the detention centre but at some appropriate place", he said.

A source close to the defence team of the former Prefect revealed that "the talks were at an advanced stage for Bagambiki because for him it is just a matter of reuniting with his family".

Bagambiki's lead counsel, Vincent Lurquin from Belgium, had announced on the day the judgement was read out that his client intended to join his wife who currently has refugee status in Belgium.

On the other hand, Ntagerura's Franco-Congolese co-counsel, Hamuli Rety, complained of the slow pace of the procedure. "They sign agreements to carry out sentences but do nothing for those acquitted", he said.

Sweden signed an agreement Tuesday with the ICTR to receive those sentenced by the Tribunal. It is the sixth country to sign up, the others being Mali, Benin, Swaziland, France and Italy.

"For the first person to be acquitted, Ignace Bagilishema, the process took four months", announced Amoussouga who counselled patience.

Bagilishema was acquitted June 7, 2001 and left Arusha for France on October 8.

The Tribunal was set up to prosecute those responsible for the 1994 that according to UN figures claimed the lives of 800.000. So far 18 people have been convicted and three acquitted.

KN/JA/GF/FH (CY''0429e)