Arusha, 17 October 2007 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) must complete within 15 months the trials of 42 currently held defendants and arrest and try 15 fugitives, which constitutes a "daunting challenge ", stated Monday, before the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, the president of the tribunal, Dennys Byron.   

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Presenting the 12th assessment of the tribunal, the president made the point that between July 2006 and June 2007 five judgments in first instance had been delivered. Five other judgments are awaited for the beginning of next year; and 22 persons are currently on trial and six others should start in 2008, he said. Since its creation in 1994, to try the organizers of the genocide in Rwanda, the ICTR has tried 33 persons. It has arrested 75 out of 90 that have been indicted.
"The tribunal might be judged as a success or failure by certain political criteria", he said.  "But there are legal criteria by which it must be judged as a court" Judge Byron clearly stated. "While the tribunal has introduced measures to speed up trials, it is critically important to ensure that essential fair trials are not prejudiced so that no reasonable onlooker could regard the process or the end result as unfair", underlined Byron.
President Byron in his speech made only one allusion to the completion strategy which the ICTR has adopted for the last few years and which, in accordance with the wishes of the Security Council, schedules the end of first instance trials for 31 December 2008. He also briefly evoked the transfers to national courts, planned to resolve the case of the last defendants. He, however, explicitly did not ask for an extension of the tribunal's mandate. But the defendants at large, if they are arrested, will have to be tried before this tribunal, he said.
The ICTR judgments and the jurisprudence which it creates influences international justice and contributes to justice for the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region, also explained Judge Byron. The ICTR president also insisted to the General Assembly that the personnel of the tribunal be incited to remain until the end. According to him, 20 % of the personnel have already left.

© Hirondelle News Agency