Arusha, 18 June 2007 (FH) - Rwandan courts, towards which the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) intends to transfer 17 accused, is the principal potential destination of accused whom the jurisdiction of the United Nations will not be able to try within the time limits imposed by the Security Council.

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Hassan Bubacar Jallow has always stated his problems to transfer accused to countries without any links to accused because of their lack of interest.

As the court must theoretically close its doors at the end of the 2008, Jallow filed on Monday a request in order to transfer Fulgence Kayishema, former legal police inspector in the area of Kibuye (north-western Rwanda) to the courts of his country.

The spokesperson for the Office of The Prosecutor, Timothy Gallimore, announced that 16 other similar requests would gradually be filed to the President of the Tribunal.

But months can still pass before the Rwandans see appear before their courts accused currently held by the ICTR or at large. The transfer of a person officially indicted is governed by a legal procedure which can be long.

According to the rules, when the President is receives a request of transfer, he designates a chamber which rules after having heard the arguments of the Prosecutor and of the council of the defendant. Moreover, the decision of the Chamber is likely to be appealed by one or the other of the two parties.

In Kayishema's case, who is part of the 18 defendants still sought by the Office of The Prosecutor, the new President of the ICTR, Dennis Byron, has not named the ad hoc Chamber yet. He is in particular accused of genocide and extermination for his alleged role in the massacre of almost 2 000 Tutsis which had sought refuge in the church of Nyange, in the former prefecture of Kibuye.

On this list of the wanted people, 12 people, including Kayishema, would be, if the Prosecutor obtains the green light from the judges, be transferred before courts of their countries.

For those which are in ICTR custody, the requests for transfers, not yet filed, should relate to at least 3 of the 8 prisoners awaiting the opening of their trials. The detainees of the United Nations Detention Unit in Arusha have already shared their concerns, it was learned from an implicated source. A representative of the Registrar's office went to the to detention unit to reassure them and should also go back next week.

The very first request for the transfer of a defendant of the ICTR to a national jurisdiction was endorsed by the judges last April. It related to the former head of the tea cartel in Rwanda, Michel Bagaragaza, a close relation of the former President Juvénal Habyarimana.

The judges accepted that he be transferred to the Netherlands after having rejected a first request which aimed to have him judged in Norway. The penal code of that Scandinavian country does not explicitly repress genocide, one of the crimes carried against the former economic figure.

If the transfer of persons officially indicted by the trial requires a court order, the Prosecutor has right of way for the cases still under investigations. Thus, it has already handed over to the Attorney General of Rwanda about thirty investigation files to be supplemented for possible indicted

© Hirondelle News Agency