Arusha, 20 November 2007 (FH) - More than half of the people imprisoned at the detention center of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, have drawn up a negative assessment of the tribunal and declared to be "political prisoners" of the United Nations.   

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In a letter addressed to the United Nations Security Council, and sent to the Hirondelle agency, these prisoners, accused or convicted, affirm that "the ICTR has put us in prison, first and foremost, for political reasons. On that account, we are political prisoners of the United Nations".
The text which is dated 15 November was signed by 31 of the 55 prisoners. None of the convicts that pleaded guilty signed the document. The prized defendant of the tribunal, the former cabinet director of the defence minister, Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, accused of being "the mastermind" of the 1994 genocide, did not sign it either.
The list of authors of the text includes convicts, defendants on trial or awaiting their trials.
According to them, "the Office of the Prosecutor actively sought evidence to convict persons chosen arbitrarily as samples representing socio-professional and political categories from the side of the vanquished even by fabricating it in complicity with the RPF, whereas judgments by the Chambers are not concerned with establishing the truth".
They "urge the UN authorities, particularly, the members of the Security Council, to make an objective assessment of the judicial activity of the ICTR with regard to its official missions, so as to acknowledge that this Tribunal has failed in its most important objective of establishing the truth, administering fair justice, fighting impunity, as well as, reconciling the Rwandan people ".
"We request the UN authorities to invite the ICTR to proceed, without delay, with the indictment of General Paul Kagame and his collaborators, accused of serious violations of international humanitarian law ", the official statement continues.
These prisoners also request that the Security Council "abort the conspiracy aimed at transferring to Rwanda ICTR accused and convicted persons" ..."to intervene in order to put an end to hunting down and to arbitrary arrests of Hutus in exile on the basis of arbitrary lists made by the RPF regime whose awful objective is to silence any political opposition".
Since the beginning of its trials in 1997, the ICTR has delivered 29 convictions and 5 acquittals.

© Hirondelle News Agency