Arusha, June 7, 2001 (FH) Prosecution on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that it was appealing the acquittal of former Rwandan mayor Ignace Bagilishema, and asked the court to stay execution of its decision. Bagilishema looked visibly moved as he left the court with his defence lawyers to prepare their response.

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The court reconvenes at 15. 00 local time. The court granted French defence lawyer François Roux his request for one hour to prepare a response to the prosecution's "surprising request". Roux told the court, however, that "we consider that when a decision is taken to acquit, the principle is that the accused is freed immediately, it's a principle written into the texts, and we cannot make an exception to it". Prosecutor Charles Philips told the court the prosecution would be filing an appeal, based on the dissenting opinion of Judge Mehmet Güney of Turkey. Judge Güney found there was enough evidence to convict Bagilishema on four counts out of seven (complicity to commit genocide and three counts of crimes against humanity). The majority decision of the three judges was, however, that the accused should be acquitted on all charges. Philips asked the court to stay Bagilishema's release for an initial period of 30 days, on grounds that he was likely to flee and could also pose a threat to witnesses. In the alternative, Philips asked the court to order that Bagilishema report regularly to the local police in his country of residence and be banned from contacting witnesses. JC/MBR/FH (BS0607f)