Arusha, 27 September 2007 (FH) - The request from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to France to transfer to it two Rwandans accused of having participated in the genocide is becoming a legal mess after the third refusal of the Court of Appeal of Paris to immediately execute these arrest warrants.

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The ICTR is making an effort to calm down the situation and is protesting against the accusation of "lightness" issued in Paris by an association representing the victims of the genocide. No official reaction has yet been issued; but according to the spokesperson of the tribunal, it is normal that the French judges asked for more information and the ICTR will collaborate with the French authorities with this intention. The prosecutor is studying the decision, stated his spokesperson by announcing "a comment at the proper time".

In the corridors of the international tribunal it is however estimated, under the cover of anonymity, that the Court of Appeal of Paris is "haggling". The majority of the documents required in the decision were transmitted to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the legal form and some documents do not correspond to the dates indicated, they explain.

The Court of Appeal of Paris wonders thus "if it is by error of pen or of translation that the facts charged to the two accused must in accordance with the text be read + attacks generalized and systematic +". This question, apparently minor, puts the finger on a contradiction of the statute of the tribunal which the French version uses this version whereas in English the "and" becomes "or".

The Court of Appeal of Paris is delivering a "lesson in law" to the tribunal, explained to the Hirondelle agency a qualified lawyer. It is showing a "false naivety" he adds. Moreover, the wish of the ICTR to transfer the two men is "potentially contradictory" to the arrest request presented by the ICTR, adds this same source.

For other people concerned, the personality of one of the two accused, Father Wenceslas Munyeshyeka, chaplain of the principal parish in Kigali, is undoubtedly not foreign to this situation. Father Wenceslas was indeed already sentenced in absentia to life in prison in Rwanda; whereas the Catholic Church has been supporting since the beginning of his ordeal. Associations, historians, and journalists have battled over his subject.

Before requesting these two men, the ICTR had already obtained from France two extraditions of Rwandans accused of taking part in the genocide. A former minister, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, and an officer, François-Xavier Nzuvonemeye, had been arrested in France in 1999 and 2000 and had been sent to Arusha three months later without tergiversation. The first was definitively sentenced to life in prison and the second is currently on trial.

© Hirondelle News Agency