Arusha, February 22, 2000(FH) - UN Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte on Tuesday told the Appeals Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that its decision to release genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza on procedural grounds violated the rights of genocide victims and survivors, the independent news agency Hirondelle reports. Del Ponte was arguing that the Appeals Court should agree to review its decision, in the light of new facts.

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"Your honours, review your decision, change your decision, because in this matter you do not have only the violation of the rights of the accused [. . . ] there was also a violation of the rights of the victims," Del Ponte told the court. "In fact, I'm the only person here to represent the victims. And on their behalf I pray you to allow the Prosecutor to institute proceedings against the accused who has committed crimes against humanity and who has committed genocide. [. . . ] This accused is responsible for the death of over 800,000 people in Rwanda. The evidence is there, irrefutable, incontrovertible, he is guilty. Give us the opportunity to bring him to justice. "Del Ponte asked whether the rights of the accused were more important than the rights of victims. She said had been surprised at the court's decision to prevent her from prosecuting Barayagwiza, and that she thought this was against the ICTR's own rules. She said the violations of the accused's rights had been blamed on the Prosecutor, but the prosecution denied this and would show that it exercised due diligence. "You should change your decision because it is wrong," she told the Appeals Court judges, "because there are new facts which, if they had been brought to the knowledge of the Appeals Chamber judges at the time they rendered the decision, they would not have made the decision that they did. "On November 3rd, the Appeals Court ordered Barayagwiza's release on the basis that procedures had been repeatedly violated during his initial detention in Cameroon and his transfer to the ICTR detention facility in Arusha. The release order was "with prejudice to the Prosecutor", meaning that the ICTR cannot re-arrest him. Barayagwiza was a founder member of the hate radio Radio Television des Mille Collines, which incited Hutus to kill Tutsis and of the hard-line Hutu party CDR. He was also foreign policy advisor to the Rwandan interim government which presided over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The government of Rwanda reacted to the Appeals Court decision by suspending its co-operation with the Tribunal, although that co-operation has recently been restored. Del Ponte reminded the court of the effect that decision had had on the Tribunal. "Justice as dispensed by this Tribunal was paralysed," she said. "Due account has to be taken of the fact that, whether we like it or not, our ability to continue proceedings and investigations depends on the goodwill of the government of Rwanda. JC/FH (BR%0222e)