28.09.07 - ICTR/RWANDA - ICTR JUDGES INVITE KIGALI TO PROVE ITS CAPACITY TO TRY THEIR ACCUSED

  Arusha, 28 September 2007 (FH) - Rwanda was invited to prove its capacity to TRY a defendant of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the former judicial police inspector (JPI) Fulgence Kayishema, who is currently at large, it was learned Friday.   
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On 11 June, the prosecutor of the ICTR, the Gambian Hassan Bubacar Jallow, filed a motion requesting that the tribunal authorize the transfer of his case to Rwandan courts. To support this motion, the Rwandan government asked, on 19 July, to be heard in this procedure as a "friend of the court" (amicus curiae).
 
In a decision rendered on 14 September, and transmitted to the agency Hirondelle Friday, the chamber designated for this purpose accepted the request of the Rwandan authorities, also asking them a certain number of questions about the capacity of the Rwandan legal system to try an ICTR defendant.
 
The chamber notably requests "details on the practical provisions which will be taken to guarantee the right of the defendant to legal aid, in the event of a transfer of the case to Rwandan courts". The three judges also wish to know if the fairness of the proceedings and the protection of the defendant will be the same as with the ICTR.
 
The text also asks if the observers which would be sent to follow the course of the trial "would not be confronted with legal or practical obstacles". Another question: would Rwanda "try a defendant in absentia, on the assumption that he could not be arrested?".
 
Lastly, the tribunal asks for "a copy and details of the law abolishing the death penalty" in Rwanda, a text promulgated in July. The ICTR cannot transfer a defendant to a country where they incur capital punishment.
 
Questioned, the representative of the Rwandan government at the ICTR, Aloys Mutabingwa, ensured that Kigali's answer was ready and that all that remained was to transmit it to the chamber.
 
The office of the prosecutor also requested the transfer to Rwandan courts of three accused currently in ICTR custody, Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana and the former merchants Gaspard Kanyarukiga and Yussuf Munyakazi.
 
As in the case of Kayishema, Rwanda wishes to put forward its arguments, indicated Mutabingwa.
 
The transfers to national courts "of accused of intermediate or subordinate rank" forms part of the completion strategy of the ICTR, which must complete by the end of next year its first instance trials. Six accused are currently being held in Arusha awaiting their trials.
 
ER/PB
 
© Hirondelle News Agency