Arusha, December 6, 2001 (FH) - International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said on Thursday that she was about to charge for genocide related crimes a defence investigator "formerly or probably still" employed at the ICTR. "Today I will sign an indictment for one of them," she said when asked about the Rwandan government's allegation that at least nine defence investigators were suspected of genocide.

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However, she declined to say whether Kigali's assertion that "the majority of the investigators in the ICTR are suspects of genocide" was justified, saying that this was a matterfor the Registry. In a press conference on Monday, Rwanda's representative to the ICTR Martin Ngoga said the Rwandan authorities had looked into the background of ten ICTR defence investigators and that nine of them were suspected of involvement in the genocide. He could not say, however, whether the ten were selected at random, or because they were already under suspicion. Ngoga said Rwanda had submitted a report to the ICTR Registry and was asking the Tribunal to conduct its own investigation. The ICTR has played down the issue, with Registrar Adama Dieng saying he was "not aware" ofRwanda's report. In May this year, Tribunal defence investigator Siméon Nshamihigo was arrested at Del Ponte's request and is now awaiting trial for genocide. He had been working under a false identity. After Nshamihigo's arrest, four other defence investigators were fired by the ICTR on suspicion of involvement in the genocide. One was subsequently re-instated after the ICTR Registry discovered that he was not the person mentioned on Rwanda's "Category One" list of top genocide suspects. Open arrest warrantsDel Ponte also said that the prosecution "intends to move away from our policy of sealed indictments in favour of a greater use of circulating arrest warrants openly". This would be done, she said, through Interpol's red notice procedure. She further said that the prosecution was going to "take advantage of reward programmes for information leading to arrests". Presently, most ICTR indictments are confidential until the arrest of the suspects concerned. "We are particularly interested," she said, "in the situation in the (Democratic Republic of) Congo, and have begun to explore with the authorities in Kinshasa whether we can trace suspects there. "Completion of investigations by 2004The Prosecutor told journalists that she intended to complete investigations on her target 136 suspects by the end of 2004. "Assuming that in the meanwhile most of the existing detainees will be processed," she said, "we are looking probably at another four years of subsequent trials which will bring us to the end of 2008. "The current mandate of the ICTR expires in 2003. The ICTR was established by a 1994 Resolution of the UN Security Council, in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. Tribunal President Navanethem Pillay of South Africa recently asked the Security Council to extend the mandate by five years to allow completion of present and pending cases. She has also asked the UN to approve 18 "ad litem" (support judges) for the ICTR, to help speed up the pace of trials. The Security Council has not yet rendered a decision on these two requests. Strategy "justified"Del Ponte admitted that "there is within the international community increasing concern about the additional years of work for the ICTR and when the tribunal could close its doors". "And I might say," she continued, "that the number of investigations had also caused some alarm. But I believe my investigative strategy is fully justified by the facts. There is no reason of principle based on public interest in the pursuit of justice that would justify a radical departure from the existing policy. ""Among the 20 accused currently at large," she said, "there are major figures who have found refuge in countries outside Rwanda, and who are beyond the reach of any national jurisdiction. We have demonstrated our ability to track them down. "Del Ponte said that her office had this year succeeded in arresting 11 accused. She also noted that the number of suspects being considered by her office was "only a small fraction of potential number of suspects involvedin the very highest end of the scale of international crimes". "From the many thousands of significant targets, we have selected under 200 perpetrators," she said. "Therefore, many important crimes will be left to be dealt with by Rwandan jurisdiction. "GG/JC/DO/FH (DP1206e)