Arusha, 5 May 2008 (FH) - The International Association of Defence Counsel has opposed once again to the transfer to Rwanda of persons accused of 1994 genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), reports Irondale Agency.

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Additional arguments were filed on 26 April-- two days after the hearing of the first motion of the ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow, seeking transfer to Rwanda of former businessman Yussuf Munyakazi, who is in detention in Arusha awaiting his trial over 1994 genocide charges.

In addition to the defence and the prosecutor, the chamber also heard the positions of four friends of the court (amicus curiae), including the International Association of Defense Counsel. The other three amicus curiae were; New York- based Human Rights Watch (HRW), the government of Rwanda and the Bar of Kigali.

The global defence attorneys association dismissed as not final the recent decision of the French court to approve extradition of genocide accused Claver Kamanya on which the prosecution notably bases itself in the transfer application.

During his arguments MrJallow urged the judges to take the example of a court in Chambery, France, which decided, on 2 April, in favour of extradition of the Rwandan fugitive to Kigali.

The defense counsels association considers that the French judgment was only one decision rendered in first instance, which is not as same as the ruling from an appeals chamber.

The judgment of Chambery states, inter alia, notes that the ICTR "envisages" sending defendants to Rwanda to be tried there, whereas it was precisely this decision that was at stake.

The organization also doubts the possibility for independent observers to follow-up the cases which would be transferred to Rwanda. According to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the prosecutor, who is at the origin of the transfer with his motion, must nominate an observer who will regularly report to him on the course of the procedures, a provision to which certain organizations are not ready to assume.

At the hearing of 24 April, American Alison Des Forges, a historian and activist for human rights, reminded that she had refused that position because the fact of reporting to the prosecutor would violate the independence of her organization, HRW.

During the landmark debate, the office of the prosecutor attacked the methodology and the competence of HRW; whereas in the establishment of his indictments, he had based himself on the work of this organization. Mrs Des Forges is also one of the main expert witnesses of the prosecution.

During the hearing, the Prosecutor General of Rwanda, Martin Ngoga and the Chairman of the Bar of Kigali, Gatera Gashabana, who leaned in the direction of Mr Jallow, but could not prove that the lawyers would be independent and compensated in accordance with the statutes of the ICTR.

The decision of the chamber was placed in deliberation at the end of the marathon one-day hearing.

To finish the first instance trials, as required by the Security Council, the ICTR is obligated to transfer some defendants to national jurisdictions.

But countries without a connection to the accused do not seem in a hurry to receive cases, which makes Kigali the main potential destination.

The prosecutor has filed five motions aiming at transferring cases before Rwandan courts. The other four applications are yet to be heard

Headquartered in Arusha, northern Tanzania, this court has rendered to date, 30 convictions and five acquittals.


© Hirondelle News Agency