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Arusha, January 19 2007 (FH) - Jean Bosco Barayagwiza has told the judges of the Appeals Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that his not attending his first instance trial was meant to protest the illegality of his detention. After a 27 month-long trial during which he was defended by attorneys he had recused, Barayagwiza was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He escaped the maximum sentence because of the particular circumstances in which his arrest took place. The former director of political affairs of the interim government of Rwanda during the genocide was on the country’s list of wanted men. He was captured in Cameroon in March 1996 and brought back to the ICTR which explained six months later that it no longer wanted of the prisoner. And yet, his release scheduled for February 1997 by the judges of Cameroon, was cancelled at the request of the ICTR’s new prosecutor. He spent 9 more months in prison before being transferred to Arusha in November 1997. In November 1999, the Appeals Chamber of the ICTR, having observed this pussyfooting, ruled that the detention of Barayagwiza was actually illegal. His release was ordered and all charges dropped. However, confronted to protests from Rwanda, the judges’ ruling itself was cancelled in March 2000. Barayagwiza, it was decided, would be judged alongside Ferdinand Nahimana, with whom he contributed funding the Thousand Hills Independent Radio and television, and Hassan Ngeze, the chief editor of Kangura, a radical paper. Barayagwiza, for once present in court with his team of hard-boiled British attorneys, reminded the judges that he had supported the creation of the ICTR in November 1994, in the idea that it would be an independent and equitable tribunal. He also declared that the status of the ICTR did not foresee trials « in abstencia »; consequently his own trial shouldn’t have taken place. Furthermore, he added that two of the judges - officials of the ICTR - who declared him guilty, had gone to Rwanda a few days before the opening of his trial and had explained the media that their visit to the President of the country was meant to clear away new problems about him. The verdict in appeal of the Media trial is expected in May. Barayagwiza’s attorney, Mr. Peter Herbert, has issued a communiqué in which he calls the judgment of the court of first instance the « most serious judicial error in the history of international law ». « History will judge you », he told the judges at the end of his pleading. PB/AT/MG © Hirondelle News Agency