Arusha, February 5, 2003 (FH ) - Fortyeight genocide suspects at the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF) in Arusha, have asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to set up an independent commission of enquiry on the circumstances that led to the death of their colleague, the Anglican bishop, Samuel Musabyimana, on January 24th. Musabyimana, 46, was accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in connection with the killings of ethnic Tutsis refugees at his Shyogwe diocese in the central Rwandan province of Gitarama.

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The killings took place between April and July 1994. The Bishop was also accused of several other killings around the diocese. He denied all charges when he first appeared before the tribunal on 2 May, 2001. The press release that was issued the day Musabyimana died mentions that " former Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Shyogwe passed away after a long illness:"In a letter dated January 27th addressed to the ICTR Registrar, the inmates listed several allegations against the Tribunal including inefficiency in handling health and psychological problems of the bishop and the fact that he was denied a lawyer of his own choice to defend him. The signatories said the deceased was transferred to Nairobi (Kenya) twice for treatment and later on was admitted to a hospital belonging to the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) for one and a half months. They claimed that on 13 January he was taken back to the UNDF. They alleged that such a decision made him lack proper medical care and psychological attention hence his conditioned deteriorated. He was again sent back to AICC hospital and later to the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi for further treatment. "If the doctors and the ICTR administration had not neglected him, the condition of the deceased would not have deteriorated," the detainees stated in their letter. Reacting to Hirondelle News Agency about the allegations on Tuesday, the newly appointed ICTR spokesman, Roland Amoussouga said that the Tribunal did everything "humanly possible" to save the life of the bishop, including taking him to different hospitals in Tanzania and Nairobi at his request. "These are just allegations. The tribunal has done everything to treat the Bishop. The facts are there to establish that," said Amoussouga. He elaborated further that the late Musabyimana was even given a specialist to help him with the psychological problems he underwent. He said he did not believe that detainees knew more than the specialist who treated him. Responding to the issue of setting up a commission of enquiry, the spokesman said that a commission can be ordered by the president of the tribunal if a detainee dies while at the UNDF, which was not Musabyimana's case. On the denial of a lawyer of his own choice, he said the tribunal followed all the legal procedures about the issue and that if one was not satisfied then there was a possibility of appealing against the decision. Funeral arrangementMeanwhile twelve days after the death of Musabyima, neither the family nor the authorities of the Tribunal could tell when and where the late Bishop will be buried. The body of Musabyimana who passed away at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi, 80 km East of Arusha, on January 24th, has been preserved at the Arusha Mount Meru regional hospital mortuary since then. Amoussouga said he could not give a definite answer as to when and where the funeral arrangement would take place but was expecting to meet the widow, Mrs Bernadette Musabyimana on Wednesday to discuss these matters. New appointmentThe former Legal Advisor and Chief of the Tribunal's Witness and Victim Support Section, Roland Amoussouga has been appointed Chief of the newly established External Relations and Strategic Planning Section which has been set up in the immediate Office of the Registrar. Part of his new responsibilities include being the spokesman of the Tribunal. NI/CE/FH (MS0205e)