Arusha, November 7th, 2000 (FH) - Former Rwandan politician and genocidesuspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza on Tuesday issued a demand for recognitionas a political prisoner in the custody of the United Nations. "I have the honour to bring to your attention that considering the specialcircumstances of a political nature surrounding my case before theInternational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), I ask you to note that,as of October 23rd 2000, I claim the status of a political prisoner," saysBarayagwiza in a letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) dated November 7th.

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Barayagwiza was political advisor to the Rwandan interim government thatpresided over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, a founder of the hardline HutuCDR party and of the RTLM radio station that incited Hutus to kill Tutsis. He is co-accused with two other suspects linked to so-called hate-radio inRwanda but has been boycotting the trial since it started on October 23rdsaying that it will not be fair. The suspect claims that the ICTR is manipulated by the current regime inKigali. He has given the Tribunal and now the ICRC a number of documentsmeant to back this claim. "Careful reading of the attached documents will allow you a more preciseunderstanding of the situation," Barayagwiza tells the ICRC. "You willunderstand why I refuse to submit to a parody of justice motivated bypolitical rather than judicial considerations. You will also know that I amstill determined to appear before any independent and impartial tribunal inany democratic country that will respect all my rights. "The ICTR Appeals Court last November ordered Barayagwiza released on thegrounds that his rights had been repeatedly violated during his initialdetention in Cameroon and his transfer to the ICTR prison in Arusha,Tanzania. Rwanda reacted by suspending cooperation with the Tribunal. TheAppeals Court revised its decision in February, after the Prosecutorpresented "new facts". Barayagwiza says this shows the ICTR is beingmanipulated by the authorities in Kigali. He also says that "I lost anylingering hope I had for a fair trial when two of the three judges (Pillayand Mose) in my case travelled to Rwanda last month to visit Kagame [PaulKagame, President of Rwanda]". JC/FH (ME%1107f)