The Hague, 11 December 2007 (FH) - The president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Dennis Byron, and the prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, presented to the Security Council, Monday their new report on the completion strategy of the tribunal, reminding that fourteen fugitives are still at large.

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During proceedings, followed from The Hague, the representative of Rwanda, Joseph Nsengimana, greeted the "partnership" initiated by the prosecutor in the transfer of the cases to Kigali.

On this question, Hassan Bubacar Jallow asked the Security Council to consider an "intermediate solution" if the transfer of cases to national courts were to be lacking, recalling in particular that the courts of the Netherlands, where a defendant, Michel Bagaragaza, had been transferred, had finally declared itself not having jurisdiction.

Of the 5 pending requests to transfer cases to Rwanda, "the position of the Rwandan government is that the most possible cases must be transferred to Rwandan courts for trial", stated Joseph Nsengimana. "Having cooperated with the ICTR, Rwanda should not be subordinated to other national systems", he said. According to him, the transfer of cases to Kigali "will reinforce the policy of the government in the organization of the reconciliation, which is central to the mandate of the ICTR".

Joseph Nsengimana estimated that "there should not be any doubt about the will of Rwanda to take the cases of the tribunal and to supervise the sentences imposed by the tribunal". This partnership resulted in the abolition of the death penalty, to a law of adaptation with the ICTR, with the adoption of funds in the governmental budget of 2008 in favour of justice, with the creation of a fund for poor defendants and with the installation of a protection system for witnesses. "Modern cells were built in the capital, Kigali, for the prisoners who will be on trial", he added.

The Rwandan ambassador then considered it regrettable that the case of the transfer to Rwanda of convicts, so that they can serve their sentences there, is still at an impasse. He "exhorted" the United Nations "to take urgent measures to rectify this situation. We exhort the Security Council to give a clear schedule on the need for transferring the guilty to Rwanda without further delay", he declared.

Two weeks after the judgment delivered by the appeal chamber in the "Media" trial, quashing a great part of the counts of the indictment on which the three accused had been found guilty, Rwanda estimated that "the management of the appeal chamber must be discussed"

Careful, Kigali requested that the Security Council "plan the scission of the appeal chamber in order to reinforce its capacities". Lastly, expressing itself on the sensitive question of the tribunal archives, Joseph Nsengimana estimated that "the completion strategy must incorporate the transfer of the documents to Rwanda"; underlining "that these archives constitute a significant part of the recent history of our country, and are of critical importance in our reconciliation policy".

A commission, chaired by the South-African judge and former ICTR prosecutor, Richard Goldstone, must return its first conclusions in February 2008 and led, at the end of November, a first mission to Rwanda. "We hope that Rwanda will not suffer prejudice from the pretext of its limited means or on other bases", Mr. Nsengimana stated.

The Rwandan representative did not make any statement concerning the investigations into the crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (APR) during of the fall of Kigali, in July 1994. The prosecutor has once again deferred his conclusions "to the beginning of 2008".

© Hirondelle News Agency