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Arusha, January 8th 2007 (FH) – At the opening of the trial of Tharcisse Renzaho, Mr. François Cantier (France), who represents the former prefect of Kigali, warned the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) against the lack of equity in its trials. « The fact that this jurisdiction judges alleged criminals who belong to one side of the conflict only, when everyone knows that crimes of power were committed by the other party too is indubitably affecting the equity of the trials », the attorney and founder of the French association Avocats Sans Frontières (Attorneys Without Borders), declared. Then, after he having denounced « the close and severe social control the power has over the Rwandan population », Mr. Cartier wondered what « freedom of speech those who live in Rwanda and who come and testify before this tribunal » can have. Several witnesses the defense had contacted to have them testify in court have since then refused to talk, he explained. The ICTR, and especially its bureau of Kigali « are permanently under the close surveillance of the country’s authorities which ignore nothing of what happens there and of what people say », he reported. « The latest judicial initiatives from France, (…) will further deteriorate the situation of the defense ». According to Mr. Cartier, the French members of the defense team are « de facto forbidden from going to Rwanda ». « You can count on the participation of the defense team as long as it considers, in all conscience, that the equitable nature if the trial is not compromised. Otherwise, we will draw all the consequences from it and ask you to do the same », he told the court presided by the ICTR’s president Erik Mose. He previously sneered at the decision of the United Nations Security Council, the ICTR’s wardship authority, to set the deadline for the conclusion of all trials in first instance courts in 2008. « Why not having showed such haste in 1994 to avoid the tragedy looming over the Rwandan population? », Mr. Cantier interpellated the court. PB/AT/MG © Hirondelle News Agency