Arusha, 12 June 2008(FH) -- The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has appealed against the decision of a lower Chamber to deny transfer of a former Rwandan trader, 73-year-old Yusuf Munyakazi, to face a trial in Kigali for his role in the 1994 genocide.

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"We have today deposited our appeal against Munyakazi," Justice Hassan Jallow told a press conference Thursday, slightly just one week before the deadline.

He also said that they will appeal in another decision of another chamber to reject transfer of former Rwandan businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga (63).

Last month, a three-bench Chamber presided by Weinberg de Roca of Argentina turned down prosecution's motion to transfer Munyakazi on grounds that the accused will not get a fair trial.

Last week, another chamber, presided by Judge Erik Mose (Norway) also turned down transfer to Rwanda of Kanyarukiga on similar ground, 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."

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 the scrapping 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 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.

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 his transfer 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