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Arusha, March 16, 2007 (FH) - A decision ordering the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR) to deposit 2000 dollars (1500 euros) to Mr. Andre Rwamakuba, former Rwandan Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, who was not been aided by a lawyer in the first months of his detention, has put the Registry of this United Nations Tribunal in an embarrassing situation. During its creation by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994, the ICTR was not endowed with compensatory funds in the case of abusive proceedings, nor in favour of victims. Since then, the International Criminal Court has fixed this “omission” and has admitted into its procedures the introduction of civil suits. The decision in question, dated January 31, is the first in the annals of the ICTR. It is heavy in consequence because it could open the door to other demands for indemnification. Questioned on the subject by the Hirondelle Agency, the Chief of the Registry, the Senegalese Adama Dieng, explained that it in effect “posed a problem.” The Registry, he explained, has no funds designed for restitution, whatever it may be. “We have informed the Appeals Chamber that, if necessary, the Registry will bring the case as far as possible, including before the General Assembly” of the UN, Dieng explained. “It’s a question of principle: we have long fought for victims of the genocide to benefit from a reparation: to this day, nothing has been obtained and now the Trial Chamber has decided to allocate a reparation for Rwamakuba,” he continued. The Chief of the Registry hopes that the execution of this decision does not spark a “slippery slope” of the same type. Arriving at the ICTR detention center on October 22, 1998, the former minister was without a lawyer until March 10, 1999, because of a procedural change in the designation of lawyers and apparently because of an administrative error. Recognizing this error, the Trial Chamber which in addition acquitted Rwamakuba, also ordered the Registry to apologize. This was done, according to Dieng. Rwamakuba, a medical school teacher, tried for massacres of Tutsis in his native commune of Gikomero, near Kigali and in the university hospital of Butare (south), was acquitted on September 20, 2006. The prosecutor declined to appeal the decision. The order did not please the acquitted individual either, who also appealed, asking for a reparation not only for the violation of his right to assistance during the first days of his detention but also for a “serious and manifest error of justice.” The former minister who had boycotted all of his trial, claims to have in effect been unjustly tried. The Tribunal has already rejected a request of the same nature, that of the former mayor Ignace Bagilishema, who lives in France after his acquittal in 2001. After having spent nearly two years in prison, he demanded 233, 416 euros (around 300,000 USD). In its decision, the President of the Tribunal ordered that such an indemnification had not been planned. Since its creation, the ICTR which rendered its first sentence in 1998, has pronounced 33 judgements including 5 acquittals. Among the 5 acquitted, two have sought refuge in France, the three others, including Rwamakuba, are still at the seat of the Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, because no country has yet agreed to take them in. Those accused at the ICTR are all considered indigent and their attorney costs are underwritten by the international community. ER/PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency