Arusha, July 16, 2002 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has rejected a defence motion calling for the provisional release of former advisor at the Rwandan defence ministry (chef de cabinet) Théoneste Bagosora. The Tribunal said Bagosora's defence counsel had not proved that there were exceptional circumstances to justify the accused's release.

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In the motion that was rejected on July 12th, Bagosora's French counsel Raphael Constant maintains that all notions of reasonable procedural delays in proceedings approved of in most democratic states have been grossly exceeded in this case. Referring to the delays in the trial proceedings, the defence states that the interest of justice requires that the accused who has been detained for more than six years be provisionally released. Constant in his motion also said it would not be possible to know the fate of the accused for several more years when one takes into account the large number of witnesses namely 225 that the prosecution intends to call in its case. Bagosora is in a joint trial that groups him and three former senior commanders in the former Rwandan army: Anatole Nsengiyumva, Aloys Ntabakuze and Gratien Kabiligi. He was arrested in 1996 in Cameroon and transferred to Arusha in 1997. According to the defence, the long detention of Bagosora shocks any sense of justice and would not be tolerated in any of the civilised judicial systems. The defence said that permitting the accused to be provisionally released would give real credence to the presumption of innocence. In response the prosecutor had submitted that an accused must be kept in detention pending his trial. The prosecution also maintained it was justified by the gravity of the nature of offences with which the accused are charged. The prosecution said that in addition, the motion should not be allowed because the defence had not provided sufficient guarantees that Bagosora will appear for trial, if released. The prosecution reminded the Chamber that on the day of the commencement of trial, April 2, 2002, Bagosora refused to appear before the Trial Chamber. In its deliberation, denying the motion in its entirety, the Chamber in part states: "Also, the Chamber observes parenthetically that the tone of the Defence Motion is regrettable. Although zealous advocacy is encouraged counsel should nevertheless maintain a respectful and decorous tone in its submissions. "The decision was delivered by ICTR's Trial Chamber Three composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis, (presiding) Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia and Andresia Vaz of Senegal. The Military trial is set to resume in September. SW/FH (ML-0716e)