Arusha, October 25th, 2000 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said on Wednesday it was granting genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza more time to reflect on his trial boycott, and was not prepared to release his lawyers from the courtroom. But the accused's defense lawyers said this put them in an impossible situation, forcing them to resign.

2 min 49Approximate reading time

"Mr. Barayagwiza has reflected for a long time and his position is clear," the accused's Canadian lawyer told the court. "I am asking you to make a clear decision. " South African presiding judge Navanethem Pillay said the decision was clear, and invited defense to study the written order. However, Marchessault refused to sit down or to be silenced. "Here you have a new piece of information," she insisted. "You say Barayagwiza should be given the opportunity to reflect on his decision. But I am telling you he has already had too long to reflect. " The lawyer said the court should "make a clear decision, otherwise you will put us in an impossible situation and you will be once again the cause of a violation of his fundamental rights". Marchessault said that if the court refused to clarify its order, then she and US co-counsel David Danielson would be forced to resign from the case. Pillay said she should submit a motion in writing, but again the lawyer refused to be silenced, saying that she already had a letter from her client that had been prepared in the event of such a situation. Pillay told her to attach the letter to a written request to withdraw. The judge refused permission for Barayagwiza's defense to leave the courtroom, as proceedings continued with the cross-questioning of a first prosecution witness. Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a former politician and founder member of the notorious radio station Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), is one of three suspects whose trial started Monday before the ICTR. All three are linked to hate-media, which allegedly incited the 1994 Rwandan genocide. But on the day the trial opened he said he was "unwilling to participate in any way in the trial" because he was convinced he would not get a fair trial. He said he had also instructed his lawyers not to attend. "I refuse to associate myself with a show trial," he said, "the outcome of which is dictated by the government of Rwanda. Allowing the current leadership of Rwanda to be this Tribunal's puppeteer is even more outrageous in the face of the undisputed facts that they are responsible for killing thousands of Rwandans who opposed their takeover of the country in 1994. " Barayagwiza has also written to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and submitted a 67-page document to the court entitled "International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Impossible Justice". Since the start of the trial, Barayagwiza has been absent. His lawyers have been present but have not been taking part in discussions on substance. The judges had said Monday that they needed more time to render a decision on the situation, and notably the role of Barayagwiza's lawyers. The detainee has not said he wants to fire them, but that he wants them to boycott the courtroom. Both Marchessault and Danielson were assigned to him by the ICTR and are being paid by the UN tribunal on the basis that the accused is indigent. The ICTR Appeals Court last November ordered Barayagwiza released on the grounds that his rights had been repeatedly violated during his initial detention in Cameroon and his transfer to the ICTR prison in Arusha, Tanzania. Rwanda reacted by suspending cooperation with the Tribunal. The Appeals Court revised its decision in February, after the Prosecutor presented "new facts". Barayagwiza says this shows the ICTR is being manipulated by the authorities in Kigali. He also says that "I lost any lingering hope I had for a fair trial when two of the three judges (Pillay and Mose) in my case traveled to Rwanda last month to visit Kagame [Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda]". Only Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of RTLM, has been in court since the trial started. The other accused, former Kangura newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze, has also been boycotting the trial to protest at ICTR translations of his articles which he says are inaccurate and unfair. Ngeze's US lawyer John Floyd had asked the judges to force Barayagwiza's lawyers to come to court. He said their absence would put an extra burden on the other counsels, especially when cross-questioning witnesses. JC/FH (ME%1025e)