08.06.07 - ICTR/BUTARE - THE TRIAL OF THE BUTARE SIX HAS LASTED SIX YEARS

Arusha, 8 June 2007 (FH) - The trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of the six Rwandan persons gathered because they were originally or prevailed from Butare (southern Rwanda) began six years ago and is not scheduled to finish quickly.
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Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister for the family, her son, head of a militia, two former prefects and two former mayors have on average been imprisoned in Arusha for 10 years and will have to wait, still, at least a year before knowing if they are convicted. Thursday, it was the second to last defendant, the prefect Alphonse Nteziryayo, to testify in his own defense.

Procedural battles, interruptions, adjournments, suspensions, closed sessions, for six years the trial has been carried out at a particular pace because of the divergent interests of the accused who mutually accuse, denounce and blame each other.

According to a reliable source, since the beginning of this trial on 11 June 2001, the defense has received twelve million dollars in honoraries. Mathematically, in accordance to the salaries published by the United Nations, the presiding judge has been paid since the first session over a million dollars.

No answer was officially obtained on the cost of this trial which is undoubtedly the most expensive in international justice and which must have cost, according to crossed evaluations, more than thirty million dollars. It has, since the end of the Milosevic case in The Hague, become the longest international justice trial.

Already on 31 October 2001, its judges had created a scandal after having laughed at the time of an aggressive and awkward cross-examination of a witness telling of her rape. The principal laugher, Winston Churchill Makutu (Lesotho), was not removed.

Since, the arguments have not shine by their quality. The expert-witnesses called, notably, by the prosecution remember with obsession whole weeks of repetitive questions that the lawyers addressed to them. For as much, their cases did not remain dead and are still useful in other cases.

A prosecutor reacted with promptitude to the charges of slowness: "in 212 days, including the interminable cross-examinations, we introduced 59 witnesses" she underlined. "It is not we who asked for the cases to be grouped" retorted Nicole Bergevin, the lawyer for Nyiramasuhuko.

The choice of the groupings made by the prosecutor of the time, Carla Del Ponte, still shows it had problems.

PB/MM
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