Arusha, 11 March 2008 (FH) - The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Bubacar Jallow, currently waiting decisions on five requests to transfer accused persons to the Rwandan courts, told  Hirondelle  that he is considering  further transfer requests of suspects.

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However, the prosecutor did not give details about to which countries these transfers would be sought.

"Information regarding the target countries cannot be released at this stage," he stressed.

Jallow also made clear that the cases of former ministers Augustin Ngirabatware and Callixte Nzabonimana would remain with ICTR jurisdiction. "The Prosecutor intends to prosecute both at the ICTR," he said.

Minister for Planning the interim government during the 1994 genocide, Ngirabatware was arrested in Germany last September and is still awaiting transfer to the ICTR headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

Nzabonimana, former Minister of Youth, was arrested in Kigoma, Tanzania on 18 February this year and transferred to the ICTR detention center. He has pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity.

Concerning whether the case of key suspect, businessman Felicien Kabuga, would be transferred to a national court if he was not arrested by the end of the year, Jallow responded by saying that he was waiting until the year-end deadline before adopting a strategy.

The ICTR has been ordered by the UN Security Council to close all trials of first instance by the end of the year.

Considered as a financier of the 1994 genocide, Kabuga, who allegedly manages majority of his business activities in Kenya, just about an hour's drive from the ICTR headquarters, has already escaped several joint
attempts by Kenyan police and the tribunal.

The prosecutor also disclosed that he could not "either confirm or deny" suppositions that he hopes to send to Paris the case of former Deputy Governor Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, arrested last year in France.

"It is not the policy of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to discuss in public  whether or not it is involved in discussions or negotiations with member  states of the UN", remarked Jallow.

The ICTR has already sent to France the cases of former Kigali Priest Wenceslas Munyesyaka and former South Gikongoro Governor Laurent Bucyibaruta.

The prosecutor hoped that the judicial decisions regarding his five requests of transfer to Rwanda made to chambers last spring will be decided "in the foreseeable future."

On 24 April, one of these requests, that of the case of businessman Yussuf Munyakazi, will move one step closer to decision, with a hearing involving the prosecutor and the defense.

The hearing will be the first public debate at the ICTR regarding requests to transfer accused persons.

However, a decision is not expected in a month's time at the earliest. Whatever the decision will be, it will be the object of an appeal, which will not be decided until fall 2008, as the tribunal approaches its closing strategy.

© Hirondelle News Agency