Arusha, June 7, 2001 (FH) The defence lawyer for former Rwandan mayor Ignace Bagilishema on Thursday welcomed the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's decision to acquit his client of genocide and other charges, saying it was good for reconciliation in Rwanda. "I think this is a great day, obviously for Ignace Bagilishema himself, but more than that for Rwanda, for the work of reconciliation that is laid down in the Statute of this international criminal tribunal," said French defence counsel François Roux.

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"We have always thought that the Tribunal must be able to make a distinction, to see that some people who are still being prosecuted are really innocent. "And," he continued, "we think that it is the interest of all the Rwandan population to understand that all Hutus are not genocidal killers. Judges in Rwanda have several times acquitted genocide suspects. It is normal that, when the situation arose, the Arusha tribunal also make the decision to acquit. "It is not yet known whether Bagilishema will be freed immediately, as earlier decided by the court. The Trial Chamber will shortly hear Roux's arguments against a prosecution request that the court stay execution of its decision, pending a Prosecutor's appeal. JC/MBR/FH (BS0607g)