Arusha, 9 April 2008 (FH)-The American Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes , Clint Williamson, said that the US Rewards for Justice Programme is still in place and committed to see that top fugitives of war crimes and genocide are arrested and tried by an international court.

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The U.S. Rewards for Justice program offers up to $5 million for information leading to the apprehension and transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of persons indicted for war crimes and genocide.

"There are certain individuals that have to be dealt at the international process...we will not be comfortable them to be tried in a domestic process," he told Hirondelle Agency in an exclusive interview, giving an example of Felician Kabuga, the alleged financier of the 1994 genocide, who is on the run and appears prominently in the US reward list. He also mentioned names, particularly of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, who led the Bosnian Serbs and are held primarily responsible for many of the worst atrocities in wars that claimed tens of thousands of lives in the ex-Yugoslavia.

The American Ambassador who is on a visit at the ICTR, said that he held meetings with the ICTR top leadership, including the President Justice Dennis Byron, Prosecutor Hassan Jallow and the Registrar Adama Dieng over the UN Court's completion strategy, its legacy and over top suspects who have eluded arrests.

"We have had a very positive meeting," he said, adding that the US wants to see the court completed its work successfully. The UN Security Council has directed that all first instance trials are completed by end of the year and appeals by 2010.

Asked if the indictments against the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) came up during the discussions, Ambassador Williamson said that their discussions were "general without any specific cases''. The Prosecutor was reported last year saying that they are looking into the alleged atrocities committed by the RPF during the 1994 genocide and promised would come up with a decision after reviewing the files.

Regarding the suggested transfer of cases to Rwanda by the ICTR Prosecutor, Ambassador Williamson said they were closely following on the motions and how it will impact the completion strategy. The first motion is scheduled to be heard on 24 April. A total of five suspects have been lined up for transfer to Kigali.

"The ultimate objective is that those charged with crimes are brought to justice," he stressed.

The issue of two acquitted persons still languishing in Arusha, he said: It is an issue of concern. it is a long term problem. We are still trying to find solutions but it has proved to be very difficult in trying to find something that satisfies all the parties."

The acquitted are Andre Ntagerura, former minister for transport and communications, Andre Rwamakuba, former minister for education. The third, former councilor of Mubuga, Vincent Rutanganira, completed his six year sentence last month and has yet to get a host country.

However, he said that all these issues will have to be discussed by the UN Security Council and come up with firm decisions.

The ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, told Hirondelle that the US Ambassador has pledged his country's assistance to the tribunal, including stepping up efforts to apprehend especially the fugitives."We have a very frank and candid talks and the US government has assured of its continued support to the ICTR efforts," he said.

Ambassador Williamson is also expected to travel to the Democratic of Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and to Burundi.


© Hirondelle News Agency