Arusha, 9 May 2008 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) welcomed Friday the decision of the Final Court of Appeal in France, the highest ruling body, to approve the transfer of genocide accused Dominique Ntawukuriryayo to stand a trial before the Arusha-based UN tribunal.

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Accused by the ICTR in an indictment dated 10 June 2005, the former Deputy Governor of Gisagara, Butare Province, Southern Rwanda, was arrested on 16 October in Carcassonne, south-western France, following an arrest warrant issued by the UN Court. He is accused of having taken part in the killings in Gisagara during the 1994 genocide.

The Final Court of Appeal rejected Wednesday Ntawukuriryayo's appeal against the ruling of the Court of Appeal of Paris, which had also authorized the transfer.

"The Tribunal highly appreciates the decision of the French Final Court of Appeal which thus marks the end of the procedure in France. Now, formalities are going to be undertaken by the Tribunal in order to ensure his transfer to Arusha as soon as possible", stated its spokesperson, Roland Amoussouga.

"This is a very positive development and the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) looks forward to other significant developments through cooperation with all member states as the tribunal works to complete its mission", added Timothy Gallimore, spokesperson of OTP.

The Special Representative of Rwandan government to the ICTR, Aloys Mutabingwa, also welcomed the decision of the French court, however, he considered that the procedure had taken too long.

"Those procedures should be speeded up, whether it be for ICTR accused or persons wanted by Rwandan judiciary. These procedures take more time than the trials", said the Rwandan diplomat.

Ntawukuriryayo, 66, who arrived in France in 1999, was beneficiary of regular residence visa. The ICTR indictment alleges that due to the acts of Ntawukuriryayo and those of his subordinates, no less than 25, 000 ethnic Tutsi refugees were killed on Kabuye Hill from 21 to 25 April 1994.

In November 2007, the Investigation Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Paris accepted to transfer Ntawukuriryayo to the ICTR, but this decision was quashed due to legal errors by the Criminal Chamber of the Final Court Appeal. The case was re- examined by the Investigation Chamber, but before new judges, which ordered his transfer to Arusha on 14 February.

Two other Rwandans accused by the ICTR are currently detained due to extradition reasons in Europe at the request of the ICTR. They are the former Minister for Planning, Augustin Ngirabatware (held in Germany since September 2007), and the former head of the tea company in Rwanda, Michel Bagaragaza, a held in The Netherlands after the quashing of the transfer of his case to Dutch courts.


© Hirondelle News Agency