Arusha, September 26, 2000 (FH) – Former Rwandan Education Minister André Rwamakuba on Tuesday demanded his immediate release on the grounds that he was being held illegally by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Rwamakuba’s British lawyer David Hooper told the ICTR that his client had been detained for six months without being informed of the charges against him, adding that responsibility lay with the ICTR Prosecutor.

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Hooper also argued that Rwamakuba’s initial appearance before the ICTR did not take place within the required time period. The defendant is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. He was arrested in Namibia and transferred to the UN prison in Arusha on October 23rd, 1998. He pleaded not-guilty at an initial appearance on April 7th, 1999. Responding to the allegations, prosecutors said they had only been informed of Rwamakuba’s arrest four months after the event. They said his initial appearance was delayed because he rejected the first defence lawyer assigned to him, and there was also a judicial holiday. Trial Chamber Two is now deliberating the matter. The Chamber is composed of Judge Laity Kama of Senegal (presiding), Judge William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania and Judge Mehmet Güney of Turkey. AT/JC/FH (PL%0926e)