27.02.08 - ICTR/DEFENCE - ADAD BOSS DEMANDS SUSPENSION OF TRIALS AND PROVISIONAL RELEASE OF DETENEES

Arusha, 27 February, 2008 (FH)- The President of the Defence Lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ADAD-ICTR), Peter Erlinder, has called for suspension of all trials and provisional release of detainees at the UN Court for what he termed as ‘'the prosecutor's failure to carry out its mandate.''
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He claimed before a press conference Wednesday that the Prosecutor has failed to abide by the UN Security Council Resolution to prosecute former members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who allegedly committed atrocities in the 1994 genocide.

RPF is now in power in Rwanda.

Mr Erlinder said that 14 years have lapsed since the establishment of the ICTR, ‘'but only members of the Hutu government of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana are the ones being prosecuted.''

ADAD has written to ICTR president, UN Security Council and UN General Assembly, claiming that the UN Court was not fulfilling its mandate.

He sited several examples pointing to RPF crimes, including its former leader, who is now president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.

To enforce his argument, he added, that the former ICTR Prosecutor, Carla de Ponte had demanded indictment of RPF members.

He also mentioned that the recent 40 warrants issued by a Spanish judge, as another demonstration of RPF crimes.

Among alleged RPF crimes committed included assassination campaigns to destabilize the former Rwandan government before genocide, planned mass murder of over 300,000 persons and 173 mass grave sites.

"None of these allegations have been brought before the ICTR even though the Security Council Resolution 955 and the Statute of the Tribunal require that all crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994 are within the
jurisdiction of the ICTR," claimed Erlinder.

Asked why he should bring these demands now that the ICTR was implementing its exist strategy, Erlinder said: "Previously we did not have enough evidence to support our case something which is not the case now."

ICTR has so far completed cases involving 35 accused persons, resulting into 30 convictions and five acquittals.

Twenty seven detainees are still on trial and six others are waiting for commencement of their cases.

Asked to comment on the ADAD's claims,Mr Tim Gallimore, Prosecutor's spokesman, said that the defence lawyers have the right to express their own opinion like others, adding : "They have said nothing new for the past five years."

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