Arusha, 14 June 2007 (FH) - The representative of the Rwandan government to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Aloys Mutabingwa, welcomed Thursday the first request aiming at transferring to Rwandan courts a defendant from the United Nations' tribunal based in Arusha, Tanzania.

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Filed on Monday by the Chief-Prosecutor of the ICTY, the Gambian Hassan Bubacar Jallow, this request concerns a defendant at large: Fulgence Kayishema, former legal police detective (LPD) in the commune of Kivumu, the former prefecture of Kibuye, in North-Western Rwanda.

Indicted for genocide and extermination, because of his alleged role in the massacre of April 1994 of almost 2 000 Tutsis which had sought refuge inside the church of Nyange, in the same area of Kibuye, Kayishema is one of the 18 accused still sought by the ICTR.

"It is a step in the right direction; it is a way of reinforcing the tracking of the fugitive; it means that the tracking of the defendant is from now on the joint responsibility of Office of the Prosecutor and of two countries, the one that will have to try the accused, Rwanda in this case, and the country which harbour the fugitive", estimates Mutabingwa.

Mr. Jallow considers, with the accord of the ICTR judges, to transfer to Rwanda 17 accused, including at least three that are presently in the Tribunal's custody.

"This request challenges all the States which harbour accused; and we know in which countries these accused are; we are going, next week, to the Security Council, to point out this responsibility of the Member States", added the Rwandan diplomat.

A delegation of the Rwandan government is to be present on Monday at the United Nations where the ICTR President, Judge Dennis Byron, and the Prosecutor will present their progress reports on the completion strategy of this court which must finish by next year its first instance trials. The transfer of some of the accused to national jurisdictions, including Rwanda, forms part of this strategy.

According to the Rules of the ICTR, the President will designate a Chamber of three judges that will rule on the transfer request of Kayishema after having heard the arguments of the Prosecutor and those of the lawyer that will be appointed to represent the accused. The decision of the Chamber is likely to be appealed by the Prosecutor or the defendant council of the.

Since its creation by the Security Council in November 1994, the ICTR has rendered 28 convictions and 5 acquittals.

© Hirondelle News Agency