Arusha, 28 March 2008 (FH) - No trial hearings took place this week at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) because of the Easter recess.

1 min 49Approximate reading time

Among much awaited trial expected was the examination of the request of the Prosecutor to transfer to Rwanda businessman Yussuf Munyakazi accused of 1994 genocide. The hearing is scheduled for 24 April.

Munyakazi is part of five defendants whom the prosecutor has expressed the wish to have tried by the courts of their country within the framework of the ICTR completion strategy, planned for the end of the year.

The case of another defendant, Fulgence Kayishema, a former Judicial Inspector in Kivumo commune, western Rwanda, was proving, however, problematic because he was still at large. Conscious of the fact that it will be difficult for the chamber to consider this case as the accused was not represented by a lawyer, the prosecutor has just suggested that the Registrar assign one to him.

The ICTR rules does not obligate the registry to automatically assign a lawyer for a defendant who is not under the tribunal's custody, reminded the spokesperson of the tribunal Roland Amoussouga, underlining, however, that if a decision was rendered in this direction, "the registry will carry it out".

Kayishema is accused of having conspired with others, including Abbot Athanase Seromba sentenced to life in prison by the ICTR, to prepare and implement a plan to exterminate the Tutsi population in Kivumu and in Kibuye prefecture.

The prosecutor supports that in the implementation of the plan, thousands of ethnic Tutsis, including those who had sought refuge in the parish church of Nyange, were killed in 1994.

The other defendants proposed for transfer to Rwandan courts are Lieutenant ldelphonse Hategekimana, former businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga, and former Mayor Jean-Baptist Gatete

Since its creation in November 1994, the ICTR has already tried 35 people. Five of them were acquitted.

Two of the persons acquitted are still in Arusha awaiting for a host country. They are the former ministers Andre Ntagerura (transport and communication) and Andre Rwamakuba (primary and secondary education). Ntagerura was acquitted in 2004 and Rwamakuba in 2006.

The search for host countries for persons acquitted remains a challenge for the ICTR, according to its spokesperson. "Everyone is aware of this challenge to which the ICTR is confronted with", he told recently the Hirondelle Agency. The administration of the tribunal continues to make "diplomatic efforts" in order to find a solution to this problem, he said.

The ICTR spokesperson explained that if persons acquitted are still in ICTR custody at the end of its mandate, their cases will be submitted to the UN Security Council. "We will submit a report to the Security Council. All the questions that will not have been resolved (at the moment of closing) will be submitted to the Security Council which will make decisions", he said.


© Hirondelle News Agency