Arusha, June 7, 2001 (FH) International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said on Thursday she was still convinced she had strong evidence against acquitted former Rwandan mayor Ignace Bagilishema, but said his acquittal justified measures to reorganize her trial teams. "We are confident of the evidence we have," Del Ponte's spokeswoman Florence Hartmann told the press, "but we know it was presented badly in court.

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(…) Mrs del Ponte is aware that the evidence was not presented by the trial teams as well as it could have been. And as you know, the contract of the senior Trial Attorney was not renewed. The Prosecutor has said on many occasions that some of the prosecutors are weak, and she has taken steps to correct this. "Some of the Prosecutor's reorganization moves had been attacked as racist, Hartmann continued, "but she has said that her only aim is to avoid situations like the present one". Since October last year, Del Ponte has terminated the contracts of six trial attorneys, including Jane Adong of Uganda who had been leading the Bagilishema case. Contracts of four people were terminated on May 15th this year, of whom three were African and one Indian. This provoked allegations of racism, which were taken up by some media. Hartmann noted that the Prosecutor would appeal against the Bagilishema judgement. "She notes that the decision was not made unanimously on the charge of complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity," she continued. "As you know, we've filed a notice of appeal. And we shall insist that Mr. Bagilishema stay in detention pending the appeal. "The court said it would decide "as soon as possible" on a prosecutor's request for a new provisional detention order, pending the appeal. The prosecution argued that Bagilishema could escape or put pressure on witnesses. Bagilishema's French defence counsel François Roux told the court that, under human rights conventions and most domestic law, "freedom is the norm, detention is the exception". He said that Bagilishema, after two years and five months in detention, had been judged innocent and should be treated as a free man. An "independent" Tribunal ICTR spokesman Kingsley Moghalu said meanwhile that the judgement showed "the court is independent and impartial and will reach its decisions on nothing else but the facts and evidence placed before it". This judgement demonstrates very clearly that what this Tribunal is set up to do is to judge the individual criminal responsibility or otherwise of persons accused of having orchestrated the Rwandan genocide," Moghalu told journalists. "What the Trial Chamber is saying is that the Prosecutor has not proved her case beyond reasonable doubt. That is a very important legal requirement for a conviction, especially with regard to crimes as serious as those on trial here. "The Trial Chamber had said, Moghalu noted, that the testimonies of prosecution witnesses "contained too many inconsistencies and contradictions" and that they were "not able to locate the accused at several sites of the alleged crimes", according to Moghalu. Bagilishema was mayor of Mabanza, in the west Rwandan prefecture of Kibuye, at the time of the genocide. He was accused on seven counts, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The three judges of the Trial Chamber acquitted him unanimously on three charges, and by a majority decision on the other four. Judge Mehmet Güney of Turkey found that there was enough evidence to convict on the charges of complicity in genocide, and three charges of crimes against humanity. JC/PHD/FH (BS0607i)