Arusha, November 5th, '99 (FH) - The Appeals Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has ruled for the immediate release of Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, the former head of political affairs at the Rwandan Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In its decision of November 3rd, The Appeals Court annulled the indictment against Barayagwiza and instructed the Registrar to hand over the accused to the authorities in Cameroon, where he has been held since November 1997.

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According to an ICTR press release, the court based its decision on irregularities observed in legal proceedings both during Barayagwiza's detention in Cameroon and after his transfer to the Arusha Tribunal. The court noted that, following his arrest in March 1996, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza was detained in Cameroon for nineteen months without being informed of the charges against him. The maximum period allowed for the custody of an accused should not exceed ninety days. The judges considered that the Prosecutor had failed in his duty to ensure all necessary steps were taken to transfer the accused to the Arusha prison within the required period. This contravenes the rights of the accused as laid down in the ICTR Statute and other international human rights instruments. Furthermore, the Appeals Court ruled that "the initial appearance of Barayagwiza, ninety-six days after his transfer, violated his right to be tried without undue delay". In February 1998, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza filed a request to the trial courts to have his arrest and detention annulled, but the motion was rejected. Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza is represented by a Kenyan lawyer, Mr Patrice Justry Lumumba Nyaberi. In the wake of the court's decision to release Barayagwiza, the ICTR administration has advised its personnel to take a number of security measures. In a memo issued on Friday, the ICTR warns staff members and their families to avoid any non-essential travel, particularly to public places or gatherings. Staff have also been advised to travel in groups. As a member of the management committee of Radio-télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza was part of the group known as "the hate media". He faced seven counts for genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, including pillaging. Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza is the second accused to be freed by the ICTR, following the release of Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, the former head of logistics at the Kigali military camp. Ntuyahaga was released in March after the Prosecutor authorised the indictment against him to be withdrawn. He was subsequently arrested in Tanzania and is currently the subject of an extradition request byRwanda. CR/AT/IN/PHD/FH (BR§1105E)