Arusha, April 10, 2002 (FH) - The lawyer for the former advisor at the Rwandan defence ministry (chef de cabinet) Théoneste Bagosora, one of the accused in the so-called 'Military Trial', has filed a motion calling for his provisional release by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Bagosora's defence cites in the motion, the "abnormal and unreasonable" nature of his detention.

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His lead counsel Raphael Constant of France says it is illegal and against human dignity to hold an accused person for several years without trial. Bagosora was arrested on March 6th 1996 in Cameroon and transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha on July 23rd, 1997. "Between his arrest and the opening of his trial, six years and one month have passed," says Constant, who blames the late start of the trial on the prosecution. Constant details the various delays in the start of the trial. He points out that prosecution requested a joint trial in 1998, as well as a presenting a motion modifying the indictment. For two years, to June 2000, the hearing did not start and the Tribunal deliberated on the two motions of the prosecutor. During this period, Bagosora, according to his lawyer, only submitted one motion regarding proof of the attack on the Rwandan presidential plane on April 6th, 1994, which sparked off the genocide. But he says this single motion could not have caused the "unreasonable" delay in the progress of the trial. Bagosora is in a joint trial with three former senior commanders in the former Rwandan army: Anatole Nsengiyumva, Aloys Ntabakuze and Gratien Kabiligi. They have all denied genocide charges for crimes committed during the 1994 massacres in Rwanda. The trial is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Three composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis, Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia and Andresia Vaz of Senegal. Bagosora's defence complains that even April 2nd this year, when the trial was scheduled to start, was just "symbolic. " He says the prosecutor did not forward to the defence the relevant documents in time and in the appropriate language for the lawyers and their clients. Constant terms the start of the 'Military trial' "a media show" whereby the Prosecutor could only read out the opening statement. The trial has been adjourned to September. The prosecution has indicated it plans to call 255 witnesses, according to the defence counsel. But he says that even if the list were to be reduced, the estimation by the Chamber that the trial could last about two years was "unreasonably optimistic. "Bagosora's lawyer says that added to the time his client has already spent in custody, at least eight years will have passed since his arrest before he knows justice. He questions the delay at this trial compared with those at other international courts such as International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Constant maintains that all major judicial systems find it unacceptable for their to be unreasonable delay in judging a citizen. He calls for the temporary release of Bagosora and for him to be allowed to participate in his trial, while in freedom. Constant says that his client is seeking to be accepted in the Netherlands where his spouse and some of his children are based. Bagosora would like to be stationed there during the period when the proceedings of his trial are not in progress, says his lawyer. Bagosora's defence states that if the Chamber grants his motion, he will make a commitment to relocate to the ICTR when required. Constant says his client is not opposed to having his provisional release punctuated by a strict judicial control measure. SW/JA/FH (ML-0410e)