Arusha, November 26th, '99 (FH) - The Appeal Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has stayed its decision to free top Rwandan genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, as Barayagwiza began a hunger strike. In a decision dated November 25th, the Court said its release order on Barayagwiza was frozen for seven days, during which the Prosecutor must file her request for a review.

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On November 3rd, the Appeal Court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, ordered the Barayagwiza's release, on the grounds that procedures had been repeatedly violated during his initial detention in Cameroon, and after his transfer to the ICTR prison in Arusha, Tanzania. The release order was "with prejudice to the prosecutor", meaning that the ICTR cannot rearrest Barayagwiza. The release order on Barayagwiza caused the Rwandan government to suspend cooperation with the ICTR , based in Arusha. It is also threatening to withhold a visa from Del Ponte, who arrived in Arusha on Tuesday. In a notice dated November 19th, Del Ponte said she planned to file for a review of the Appeal Court decision on the basis of "new facts". Also on November 19th, Rwanda asked to present its arguments to the Appeal Court, so that the judges review their decision to have Barayagwiza returned to Cameroon, where he was originally arrested. Kigali also said that if Barayagwiza were sent to Rwanda, it would guarantee he would not be sentenced to death, even if found guilty. In its latest order, the Appeals Court says that all other requests relating to its November 3rd decision would be examined after the seven-day period has expired. "The judges first want to receive the Prosecutor's request for a review, and then deal with the other motions," ICTR spokesman Kingsley Moghalu explained at a press conference. The Appeal Court also clarified a point in the decision, saying that Barayagwiza's "immediate release" was subject to measures being put in place to return him to Cameroon. Barayagwiza is still being held in the UN prison in Arusha, Tanzania, where he on Thursday began a hunger strike. "He wants his rights as a free man respected," Barayagwiza's Kenyan lawyer Justry Nyaberi told Hirondelle from Nairobi. Nyaberi said, however, that his client had started the hunger strike without being aware of the latest Appeal Court order. ICTR spokesman Moghalu said the detainee had now been informed of the order. He said Barayagwiza "is drinking water". The Appeal Court ordered the ICTR Registry to "transmit a copy of the current Order to the authorities of the Republic of Rwanda". Moghalu told the reporters that this was linked to Kigali's amicus curiae request, and that Rwanda was therefore "an interested party". JC/FH (BR§1126e)