Arusha, 9 June 2008(FH) -- The Rwandan judiciary suffered another blow in less than two weeks after the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Chamber turned down another request of the prosecution to send genocide accused to Kigali on grounds that the suspect may not get a fair trial.

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The Chamber's judgement stated the 63-year-old former businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga would not receive a fair trial if transferred, adding that the suspect would not be able to call witnesses residing outside Rwanda "to an extend and in a manner which will ensure a fair trial."

Late last month, another Chamber of ICTR rejected the Prosecution's request to transfer trader, Yusuf Munyakazi (73), on similar grounds.

The three-bench judges made of Erick Mose of Norway (presiding), Sergei Alekseevich Egorov (Russia) and Rita Arrey (Cameroon) also accepted the defence attorneys' arguments that it would face problems in obtaining witnesses in Rwanda "because they will be afraid to testify".

The ruling also stated that the suspect, if convicted to life imprisonment, may risk solitary confinement "due to unclear legal provisions in Rwanda."

However, the Chamber found that Rwanda has made notable progress in improving its judicial system, also noting of the abolishing of the death penalty since last year.

In addition to submissions by the Prosecution and the Defence, the judges considered briefs from the Rwandan government, the Kigali Bar Association, Human Rights Watch and the International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association, which had been given amicus curiae(friends of the court) status.

The Prosecutor, Mr Hassan Jallow, the Rwandan government's special envoy to ICTR, Alloys Mutabingwa and the Rwandan Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, were unavailable Monday to comment on the issue.

Kanyarukiga was arrested in South-Africa in July 2004.

He is alleged to have participated in 1994 genocide in Kibuye Province, western Rwanda. He has pleaded not guilty.

The other three accused targeted for transfers and their decisions are awaited are: former Commander of Ngoma Camp Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana, former Mayor Jean Baptist Gatete and former Inspector of Judicial Police, Fulgence Kaysihema. The latter is still at large.

The prosecution's transfer motions are within the framework of the ICTR's exit strategy, which wants to transfer some cases to national jurisdictions in order to finish by the end of the year all first instance trials as directed by the Security Council. However, the Prosecutor last week asked the Security Council for additional one year to complete the work.

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

Eight accused, held in Arusha, are currently awaiting their trials. One is detained in Europe awaiting their transfers to the ICTR, whereas 13 suspects are still on the run, including Felicien Kabuga, the alleged financier of killings, which according to UN estimates claimed lives of about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.


© Hirondelle News Agency