Arusha, 29 April, 2008(FH) - The Prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Justice Hassan Jallow, has denied that he tried to induce genocide accused Yusuf Munyakazi into admitting a guilty plea for the 1994 crimes.

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"Let me reiterate that the Prosecutor did not pressure or coerce the accused in any way to enter into any agreement,'' the Prosecutor told Hirondelle Agency through his Spokesperson, Dr Tim Gallimore.

"As part of [ICTR] completion strategy, the Office of Prosecution [OTP) routinely makes each accused aware of the process for entering a plea agreement with the Prosecutor," explained Dr Gallimore, adding that the accused may voluntarily enter into an agreement to plead guilty.

The Spokesman further stated:" The Rules of Procedure of the ICTR protect the right of the accused in all communications with the Prosecutor. All the communications are also privileged."

Mr Munyakazi claimed last Thursday before the UN Court that the ICTR Prosecutor tried to induce him to make a confession of guilty plea to get his sentence reduced.

Mr Munyakazi, who is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity during 1994 massacres, made the allegation during hearing of the prosecutor's motion to have the former Rwandan businessman get transferred to Kigali for a trial. The 73-year-old accused has pleaded not guilty.

"I can't testify wrongly," he told the three-bench Chamber presided by Judge Ines Weinberg de Roca (Argentina) and assisted by Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Robert Fremr (Czech), which heard the historic first transfer motion.

The Court was established in November 1994 to try key suspects of the killings, which according to the United Nations, claimed lives of about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Mr Munyakazi alleged that as a result he was kept in a solidarity confinement for nine months.

"I was not part of the Hutu-power [who committed genocide] and that I am innocent," he stressed.

The motion requesting Munyakazi's transfer is also within the ICTR's completion strategy, which wants to transfer cases to national jurisdictions in order to finish by the end of the year all first instance trials as directed by the UN Security Council.

The chamber completed the hearing Thursday and was yet to announce the date for a ruling.

Since June 2007, the ICTR Prosecutor has filed motions to transfer to Kigali five accused persons, including Munyakazi.

The other accused targeted by transfer requests to Kigali are: former Commander of Ngoma Camp Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana, businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga, former Mayor Jean Baptist Gatete and former Inspector of Judicial Police, Fulgence Kaysihema. The latter is still at large.

Headquartered in Arusha, northern Tanzania, ICTR has, to date, delivered 30 convictions and 5 acquittals.

Seven accused held in Arusha are currently awaiting their trials. Three others are detained in Europe awaiting their transfers to Arusha, whereas 13 suspects are still on the run


© Hirondelle News Agency