20.09.07 - ICTR/FRANCE - DECISION 26 SEPTEMBER ON THE TRANSFER OF TWO RWANDANS TO THE ICTR

PARIS, 20 September 2007 (FH) - The Court of Appeal of Paris will render its decision next Wednesday, 26 September, on the possible transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and Laurent Bucyibaruta accused of having taken part in the 1994 genocide.
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The two men were again released under judicial supervision Wednesday in spite of the requests from the prosecution. This second release was qualified as a "judicial adventure" Thursday morning by the spokesperson of the tribunal.

According to Roland Amoussouga, the decision enters within the normal framework of the procedure which will make it possible for French courts to come to a conclusion about the validity of the ICTR arrest warrants and on the question of transfer to the ICTR. "Wait until a decision from the French court is made. The final outcome will enable us to draw the conclusions which are essential (...) it is not the first time that defendants (of the ICTR) are arrested in France ", he added.

Abbot Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and the former Prefect Laurent Bucyibaruta, who were arrested for the second time in France on 7 September, are not permitted to leave the France.

If the two men were delighted by this release, protesting their innocence once again, the representative of the principal state counsel's office casted a shadow over their future in France. He reminded that in matters of genocide and crimes against humanity the transfer of defendants was "quasi-automatic", unless the magistrates of the Court of Appeal raise an error of procedure or an error of law.

The defence counsels underlined the absence of motivation in the request for the transfer to the ICTR, an essential "detail" in regards to the gravity of the acts for both of the accused alleged by the international tribunal, they pled.

The principal state counsel's office conceded the absence of motivation from the ICTR, being unaware of whether the two men would be tried by the international tribunal, heard before their transfer to France which has agreed to try them, or extradited to Rwanda which wants them.

In June 2006, France agreed to try the two men; a procedure which makes it possible to reduce the workload of the ICTR, which must finish its first instance trials by the end of 2008. The two men are accused before the criminal tribunal for rapes, executions and assassinations constitutive of crimes against humanity. The abbot, a controversial character, is also being prosecuted for genocide and complicity to genocide for the former prefect.

If the investigative chamber delivered an opinion favourable to their transfer to the ICTR, the two men could request an appeal.

Both have been under investigation in France, since 1995 for Father Wenceslas and 2000 for Bucyibaruta, for crimes related to the Rwandan genocide. In this French procedure, they were placed under judicial supervision after being briefly detained.

Hutu Catholic priest, Wenceslas Munyeshyaka has been practising his ministry since 2001, in various parishes of Gisors and of the Epte Valley. The former prefect of Gikongoro, Laurent Bucyibaruta, resides near Troyes (Aube).

PAS-ER/PB/MM
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