13.11.07 - ICTR/RWANDA - RWANDA ONCE AGAIN INVITED TO ARGUE ITS CAPACITY TO TRY ICTR DEFENDANTS

 Arusha, 13 November 2007 (FH) - Kigali will once again argue on the competence and the independence of its courts to consider a person indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), it was reported by a legal source Tuesday.
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The ICTR, which must theoretically complete its first instance trials by 31 December 2008, is seized by motions from the prosecutor aiming at transferring to Rwandan three accused awaiting their trials and a fourth still at large.
 
The Rwandan authorities have already been authorized to file their written arguments in support of the request aiming at the fugitive Fulgence Kayishema, a former legal police inspector in Kibuye (north-western Rwanda). The chamber has not yet rendered its decision on this subject.
 
In a decision delivered last Thursday, the tribunal invited the Rwandan government to intervene in the procedure aiming to transfer to Rwanda the case of the former businessmen, Yussuf Munyakazi.
 
The chamber designated for this purpose requested that the Rwandan authorities answer a certain number of questions, as it had been the case in the Kayishema case.
 
It wants to, thus, know if Munyakazi is the subject of charges in Rwanda, what will be the composition of the first instance and appeals chambers, what assistance will the Rwandan government bring to defendants in order to guarantee an adequate legal representation to them.
 
The judges also wish to know the existing procedures in Rwanda in regards to protection of witnesses before, during and after their testimonies.
 
The Rwandan government has 45 days to answer all these questions.
 
Questioned, the special representative of the Rwandan government to the ICTR, Aloys Mutabingwa assured that his country would file its response within the delay.  
 
In the Kayishema case, the Attorney General of Rwanda, Martin Ngoga, underlined the competence of Rwandan courts for the crimes reproached against the defendant. He insisted on the experience of the judges, the prosecution and Rwandan lawyers in regards to genocide trials and indicated that the Rwandan law had provisions to guarantee a fair trial in accordance with international standards.
 
Ngoga also assured that the defendant will not be sentenced to death in the event of a guilty verdict, since this sentence was abolished in July in Rwanda. He finally referred to the sufficient provisions allowing observers of the African Commission on Human and People's Right to follow the course of the trials in Rwanda.
 
Besides Kayishema and Munyakazi, the ICTR prosecutor has requested to transfer to Rwandan courts Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana and the former businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga.
 
ER/PB/MM

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