Arusha, November 2nd, 2000 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday denied lawyers of genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza permission to withdraw from the case, saying this would not be in the interests of justice. Barayagwiza has been boycotting his trial and instructed his lawyers to do the same, saying that the trial would not be fair.

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He claims that the ICTR is manipulated by the current regime in Kigali. However, the court last week denied his defence permission to leave the courtroom. They then submitted a motion to withdraw from the case, saying they had been forced to do so because they were no longer able to follow their client's instructions. "Lawyers cannot simply abide by instructions which are seen as an obstruction of justice," the court said. "The Chamber does not find the existence of exceptional circumstances warranting counsel's request to withdraw from the case. "Presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa said the court had also referred to the lawyers' code of professional conduct, which states that counsel must represent the client until the mandate is withdrawn. "In the present case it is not clear whether the client has terminated the mandate. It is not an unequivocal termination," she said. In fact, Barayagwiza had expressed confidence in both his counsel Carmelle Marchessault (Canada) and his co-counsel David Danielson (US). The decision was rendered by Trial Chamber One, composed of judges Pillay, Eric Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardena of Sri Lanka. In a separate opinion, Judge Gunawardena said he agreed with the majority that the request should be rejected, but that the court should appoint the two lawyers as standby counsel. This he proposed as a solution to Danielson's objections that to stay in court and do nothing would serve no practical purpose, while to continue defending against his client's instructions would breach the rules of his Bar. Barayagwiza was a policy advisor to the former Rwandan government that presided over the 1994 genocide, and a founder of both the hardline Hutu CDR party and hate-radio station RTLM. He is co-accused with Ferdinand Nahimana, who was director of RTLM, and Hassan Ngeze, who was editor of the Kangura newspaper. Their trial started on October 23rd, but Baraygwiza has stayed away. JC/FH (ME%1102e)