Arusha, 18 April,2008(FH)--The new Registrar for the International Criminal Court (ICC) , Ms Sylvana Arbia, has cautioned that the UN Security Council's strategy for the completion of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda by end this year was risking of inadequate action against impunity because most national jurisdictions are not able or not willing to prosecute the ICTR cases.

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 In her maiden interview with Hirondelle News Agency, the former ICTR Chief of Prosecutions observed that the Security Council's decision had created additional limitations and frustrations to the prosecutions.

Ms Arbia, who worked at the Arusha-based tribunal for nearly nine years, considered that the UN Security Council should have ensured sufficient preparations for national jurisdictions before pronouncing the exit strategy. It is only Rwanda which has already expressed interest to take the suspects, but the human rights observers and defence attorneys are worried over Kigali's record of human rights.

The 54-year-old Ms Arbia took over her new assignment last week at the seat of the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands. Mr Richard Karegyesa, a senior trial attorney at the ICTR, has been appointed as acting Chief of Prosecutions.

This week, the former Rwanda envoy to Switzerland during the 1994 genocide, Mr Augustin Karamage was testifying in the defense of the former Rwandan Minister for Civil Service, Prosper Mugiraneza, who is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity alongside three other ministers in a joint trial.

The three other accused ministers are the former Foreign Minister Jerome Bicamumpaka, former Minister for Health, Casimir Bizimungu and former Minister for Commerce Justin Mugenzi. They all have pleaded not guilty.

Ambassador Karamage claimed before ICTR for Rwanda on Tuesday that the feed back he got from the then Rwandan authorities during the genocide was that the government was powerless to stop violence across the country.

The envoy added that even the Interim President Theodore Sindikubwabo while on a stopover in Switzerland in May 1994, informed of rapid deterioration in Rwanda and that the government was not in a position to control the escalation of killings.

Ambassador Karamage was the 28 defense witness to testify for Mr Mugiraneza. The trial continues next week.

Finally, a protected witness only known by code "BTH" admitted during his cross-examination that he had wrongfully accused the former MRND party Secretary General Joseph Nzirorera for ordering massacres of ethnic Tutsis in Ruhengeri province, northern Rwanda during the genocide.

He told the court in the joint trial of former three top party officials that he had to lie in his statements in order to be released from prison in Rwanda.

The wrongful statements were made in 2005 and 2006 to the prosecution.

The co-defendants in the trial are former MRND President, Mr Mathieu Ngirumpatse, and the party's Vice President, Mr Edouard Karemera. The trial continues next week. Since the beginning of the hearings in 1997 the accusations of false testimony have multiplied at the ICTR.

A first witness was tried and convicted end of last year and has just been released after having served nine months in prison for contempt of the court.


© Hirondelle News Agency