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Arusha, February 22, 2007 (FH) - On visit to Rwanda, Cherie Blair, the wife of the British Prime Minister, met with a delegation of senior Rwandan judicial officials in Kigali on Wednesday, who presented the results of semi-popular Gacaca courts in charge of trying individuals presumed responsible for the 1994 genocide, according to an official Rwandan source. “There were representatives of the Gacaca judges who came from all four provinces of the country and the city of Kigali. We mentioned the achievements made since her last visit in 2005,”the executive secretary of the National Service in charge of Gacaca Courts , Domitille Mukantaganzwa, told Hirondelle News Agency. In 2005, Mrs. Blair attended a Gacaca court hearing in Nyarugunga, in a Kigali suburb. “This time she wanted to have an idea of our progress since then,” added Mrs. Mukantaganzwa. “There are currently 818. 564 people who have been accused of participating in the genocide, and among them, more than 50,000 have been tried” Mrs. Mukantaganzwa said. During the meeting in which the Ministry of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, and the President of the Supreme Court, Aloysie Cyanzayire, participated, Mrs. Blair was accompanied by Jeannette Kagame, the wife of the Rwandan president. “The work is going forward very well, despite certain gaps associated with providing security for the survivors, the witnesses, and the judges,” declared Mukantaganzwa. Among the other difficulties she mentioned were fear on the part of certain witnesses of telling the whole truth, corruption, or partiality on the part of certain judges. She also mentioned that 47,000 Gacaca judges-about fifteen are currently detained- have been accused of having played a role in the genocide. The Rwandan government hopes that by committing all the available resources, it can close the work of the Gacaca courts by the end of this year. There are currently 9,013 Gacaca courts at the cell level, the smallest administrative unit of the country, and 1,545 Gacaca at the sector level. Each sector encompasses one appellate court. These jurisdictions are presided over by 200,000 judges. Since mid July 2006, the Gacacas trials that have taken place in 118 pilot jurisdictions have been replicated across the country. The Gacaca courts have no jurisdiction over genocide suspects in the first category, such as the planners of the genocide and rapists. The accused of this category are eligible for the death penalty, which the Rwandan government meanwhile hopes to abolish from its criminal code. The Gacacas are inspired by traditional village assemblies in which elders would mediate disputes while seated on lawns (gacaca, in Kinyarwanda). The maximum punishment that these jurisdictions are allowed to render is 30 years in prison. ER/KD/AT © Hirondelle News Agency