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Arusha 27 December 2006 (FH) – 2007 could be « our most challenging year », Mr. Hassan Bubakar Jallow, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) tells his colleagues of the prosecution team in his New Year message.

In his letter, the Gambian magistrate notably mentions the transfer of the cases of some twenty defendants and the tracking of the six most important accused still on the lam. He announces the enhancing of the Appeals division and the appointment at its head of a new Chief of Division.

Abubakar Jallow also looks back on the achievements of 2006, that he calls « a very busy year for the ICTR ». Five new trials have started (Karera, Bikindi, Rukundo, Nchamihigo and Nzabirinda); Karera has already been concluded and the verdict is pending.

Six other cases have closed (Seromba, Muvunyi, Mpambara, Rwamakuba, Nzabirinda, Serugendo), two of which have been shortened thanks to guilty plea accords. In this past year, the prosecutor continues, there has been a record number of defendants on trial, « a peak » that he wishes will continue in 2007.

Jallow also reveals that the Investigations Unit based in Kigali has undergone restructuring « on the basis of teams constituted on functional lines ». Investigation teams were formerly divided in geographical zones corresponding to similar charges pressed against alleged genociders.

The tracking team, which has conducted no arrest operation in 2006, will « intensify (its) efforts » to apprehend the 18 remaining fugitives. 6 of these are most wanted by the ICTR, which is supposed to judge them in Arusha, Mr. Jallow explains. Should the tracking team fail to capture the other fugitives, their cases will be transferred.

PB/MG © Hirondelle News Agency