Arusha, 17 December 2007 (FH) - The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Jallow, has said that he was ready to start new cases next year of six genocide accused in the event of any non-referrals to other national jurisdictions.

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The six cases are: ex-Rwandan acting Interior Minister during the 1994 genocide Calixte Kalimanzira, ex-Mayor of Murambi commune Jean-Baptiste Gatete, ex-Lieutenant Colonel of Rwanda Armed Forces (FAR) Ephrem Setako, former commander of Ngoma Camp Indelphonse Hategekimana; and former businessmen Yusuf Munyakazi and Gaspard Kanyarukiga.

Mr Jallow told Hirondelle News Agency Monday that the Office of Prosecution (OTP) has already prepared details of the cases and "is ready to proceed to trials."

However, he added that four of the accused-Gatete, Hategekimana, Munyakazi and Kanyarukiga-are on the referral list for transfer to Rwanda, but was waiting for a chamber's decision. All six, he said, are currently held in the special UN Detention Facility in Arusha.

Briefing the UN Security Council a fortnight ago, Mr Jallow cautioned that for any reason, referrals of cases proved impossible, it would result in a substantial increase in the work load of trials and may affect the completion strategy.

"Whilst we are still in a position to conclude the trials of detainees whose referral is not possible, the management of the cases of fugitives whose cases are not transferred to Rwanda will pose a more difficult
challenge," he told the UN members, adding that judicial determination of pending requests, some since mid this year, for referrals to Rwanda would facilitate the search for speedy solutions.

He said:" I am merely at this stage alerting the Security Council to possible increase in the workload of this tribunal in 2008 which may impact on the timeline for completion of trials." If the workload does increase, he added, the UN Security Council would be detailed with specific recommendations for consideration.

The UN has set a deadline of December 2008 to complete all pending cases and appeals by 2010.

The Prosecutor further said that he was intending to file shortly additional requests for transfer of cases to Rwanda, the only country which has so far expressed willingness to take cases from ICTR. "I am optimistic that the judges will soon make a decision on the transfer of cases,'' he told Hirondelle.

With the exception of Edouard Karemera case, which groups together with two other top leaders of the then pro-Hutu MRND party, and is expected to run into 2009, other cases are expected to end by December 2008, and a number of cases will be in the judgment writing phase in 2009, according to Mr Jallow.

The Prosecutor also told Hirondelle that some progress has been made over the investigations of alleged atrocities committed by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) during the genocide. RPF has denied the allegations.

"We're hoping to conclude the matter early next year," said Mr Jallow.

He said the tribunal's tracking team was still tracing fugitives, including the most wanted Felician Kabuga, who is believed to have financed the genocide.

Businessman Kabuga is alleged to be hiding in Kenya, and Mr Jallow said efforts have been stepped up with the help of Kenyan government to track down the accused.

The UN tribunal which was set up in November 29 has already rendered judgements for 34 accused, including five acquittals. Trials are currently underway for 28 detainees.

© Hirondelle News Agency