02.01.08 - ICTR/RPF - DEFENCE LAWYERS EXERT PRESSURE OVER RPF INDICTMENTS

Arusha, 2 January 2008 (FH)--The Association of Defence Lawyers (ADAD) at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has exerted pressure on the Prosecutor to speed up indictment of Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) members alleged to have committed atrocities during the 1994 genocide.
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ADAD's Press Counsellor, Christopher Black, claimed that since the tribunal was started in November 1994, it was only ethnic Hutus have been targeted for prosecution before the UN tribunal while the crimes of the "RPF Tutsis were being covered up by the Tribunal."

Responding to Prosecutor Hassan Jallow's recent statement to the UN Security Council that the prosecution would conclude investigations into the alleged RPF crimes this year (2008), Mr Black was dismissive, saying that '' it will be for cosmetic reasons," adding that even if that happens it was highly probable that the trials would take place in Rwanda so that RPF maintains control over the processs.

Black alleged that, like his three predecessors--Richard Goldstone, Louise Arbour and Carla Del Ponte, Mr Jallow has carried on the clear Anglo-American and Tribunal policy of protecting RPF soldiers who committed massaccres in Rwanda, including President Paul Kagame, who was the leader of his advancing troops. "They have given the RPF complete immunity from prosecution and from justice," he claimed.

Mr Black added that the international justice system is and would remain a "mockery" if the RPF members are not brought to trial by the UN tribunal before it closes down by end of this year. The UN Security Council has set a deadline of completing all cases by December 2008 and appeals by 2010.

ADAD, he said, strongly believes that without bringing RPF to the dock, the tribunal would have done no justice and instead of forging national reconciliation in Rwanda "it will be continual conflict .

However, the ICTR Prosecutor has maintained that they are independent and are carrying out their mandate as assigned by the UN. "We're perusing the files (RPF) and if need be we will deal with them accordingly," the Gambian-born tall Prosecutor, Justice Jallow told Hirondelle News Agency.

The Rwandan government has denied RPF atrocities, and all along has said that the allegations are baseless. The RPF has been credited for stopping the genocide, but in the process some of its members allegedly committed mass murders.

Mr Kagame has personally denied any wrong doing and has publicly dismissed allegations of involvement in the shooting down of the plane which killed President Juvenal Habyarimana near the capital, Kigali, which sparked the killings. Also killed in the plane, which was brought down by rocket fire, was Burundi's President Cyprian Ntayamira

The two presidents were returning from a meeting of east and central African leaders in Tanzania's commercial city of Dar es Salaam at which they discussed ways to end the ethnic violence in Burundi and Rwanda.

According to the UN estimates, about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the April-July 1994 spontaneous bloodshed. Currently, 28 detainees are on trial before the Arusha-based UN court. Since the tribunal's establishment, 35 judgements have been delivered, including five acquittals.

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