11.03.08 - RWANDA/ICTR - RWANDA IS READY TO TRY ICTR GENOCIDE SUSPECTS, SAYS SUPREME COURT JUDGE

Kigali, 11 March 2008 (FH) - The Rwandan judicial system is ready to preside over trials involving alleged authors of 1994 genocide detained in Arusha, according to Mr Sam Rugege, vice-president of the Rwandan Supreme Court.
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 "Our [Rwandan] judicial system has already judged first category genocide offenders,” he said, adding that the valuable training experience provided to Rwandan judges by the ICTR has increased their capacity to
try 1994 suspects held at the UN Court.

‘’ We are therefore ready to judge files that are in the hands of the ICTR and that should be transferred to us here," Rugege said during the opening of the joint ICTR and Rwanda Supreme Court judicial training
organized in Kigali.

Mr Rugege has hailed the ICTR's contribution to Rwandan jurisdictions regarding the genocide trials.

A first training session organized in 2007 was attended by half the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court .

The second session is attended by other half, 22 judges in total, of which six are of the Supreme Court and 16 from the High Court.

The High Court will be in charge of first trials, and the Supreme Court will handle appeals.

The second training session will reinforce knowledge of international criminal law and its procedures; discuss the parallel relationships between Rwandan courts and international criminal courts with a view to
ameliorating the administering of justice in Rwanda; and work towards the installation of a better system of managing transferred ICTR files.

Professor William Schabas from the United Kingdom, an expert in International Criminal Law and author of many works, as well as Mr Lennart Aspegren, former ICTR judge, will lead the session, financed by the
European Union (EU).

Since 2007, the EU has given 2.07 million Euros ($3.17 million) to the ICTR primarily to finance training programs for Rwandan judges, lawyers and magistrates.

With an eye toward finishing all first instance trials by 31 December 2008, the ICTR plans to transfer to Rwanda accused persons who have not been brought to trial yet. The Prosecutor has already filed motions to transfer five accused persons to Kigali.

The transfers, to which the accused as well as several human rights organizations are firmly opposed, will be decided by the ICTR judges.

Debates on the transfer should begin in April, with no final decision expected before the summer, six months before the expected closing of the tribunal as ordered by the UN Security Council.

SRE/PB/SL/SC
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