Arusha, 30 April 2008 (FH) - The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) when presenting last week his motion in favour of transfer of genocide accused Yusuf Munyakazi to Rwanda, clearly distanced himself from the Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Human Rights Watch (HRW), on which, however, the UN Court has relied on for the last 14 years for expert testimony.

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Presenting his arguments before the Chamber, the prosecutor accused HRW of lack of credibility and having confused the collection of information on the violations of human rights in general and international criminal proceedings in an apparent attempt to rebuff HRW's contention not to send 1994 genocide accused persons to stand trials in Kigali.

He also affirmed that the HRW's sources were in fact "inadmissible and not very reliable".

Since the first indictment presented at the ICTR, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has relied mainly on the collective investigation carried out by HRW and the book titled "Leave None to Tell the Story", which it presents as evidence in the majority of the trials.

The prosecution, moreover, has called in almost every trial as an expert witness, Dr Allison des Forges, official in charge of Africa for HRW, who is also a historian and specialist in Rwanda.

Dr des Forges was present during the Prosecutor's motion hearing alongside Aisling Reidy, a lawyer from New York, where the organization is headquartered, as Amicus Curie (Friends of the Court). The others invited as Amicus Curie were the Rwandan government and the Kigali Bar.

Responding to the Prosecution's allegations, Ms Reidy informed the Chamber of their systematic compilation of reports, method applied and categories of people interviewed in their investigations of the Rwandan judicial system.

For example, among people questioned, she affirmed, were four current or former ministers of justice, 14 current or former judges, 11 current or former prosecutors, three current or former bar association presidents, 15 national or international NGO representatives and more than 100 Rwandan victims of various abuses of the legal system.

The motion requesting Munyakazi's transfer is 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 one-day hearing last 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