Arusha, 12 June 2008 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has legal powers to retract the trial of four soldiers arrested in Rwanda on Wednesday if it was deemed that the case was not conducted in a transparent manner, Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, has warned.

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The Rwandan military arrested the soldiers, including a Brigadier General, for alleged killings of 13 clergymen during the 1994 genocide and are expected to appear in court soon. The alleged killings took place on 5 June at Gitarama, central Rwanda.

"If it [trial] is badly conducted, we have the competence to bring the case to the Tribunal," he told reporters on Thursday.

He added that Rwanda shared concurrent jurisdiction with the tribunal, but the Tribunal has the primacy, Justice Jallow stated, adding that the trial would be closely monitored by the Office of Prosecutor (OTP) under William Egbe, a Senior Trial Attorney who is head of the ICTR's Special Investigative Unit (SIU).

"The Rwandan government asked to be given an opportunity to prosecute the case," Justice Jallow disclosed, adding that he agreed with the hope that it would be conducted in a manner which would bring reconciliation in Rwanda.

Asked why should the trial be allowed in Rwanda when already two ICTR Chambers have rejected transfers of two genocide accused for trials in Kigali on grounds that they may not get a fair trial, the Prosecutor responded: " The rejection [of transfers] was out of judicial cases whereas was not the case with the arrested Rwandan soldiers."

The soldiers' arrests follow last week's disclosure by the Prosecutor before the UN Security Council that some soldiers of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) had committed atrocities during the genocide. RPF is currently in power under President Paul Kagame.

The UN has estimated that about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the April-July slaughter.

Justice Jallow's predecessor, Swiss Carla Del Ponte, was the first to disclose over the RPF investigations during her tenure as the ICTR prosecutor between 1999 and 2003. The Rwandan government in the past has been furious over the investigations and even reached a boiling point by refusing to co-operate with the UN tribunal and once even denied entry visa to Carla Del Ponte.


© Hirondelle News Agency