Brussels, 2 July 2008 (FH) - The Acting Chief of Prosecutions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Richard Karegyesa, said Tuesday that the UN Court will ask for a year's extension from the Security Council if its appeals filed against the decisions of the Chambers to refuse its requests to transfer defendants to Rwanda were unsuccessful.

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"If we are not successful in the appeal, we will return to the UN Security Council to ask for an additional year until 31 December 2009", stated Mr. Karegyesa during a press conference organized at the Belgian Parliament by the NGOs REDRESS and African Rights.

"We are convinced that the additional time will be enough to handle all the concerned cases", he added. The ICTR prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, already pleaded in May before the Security Council for the mandate of the tribunal to be extended by a year.

Five transfer requests, including one relating to a fugitive, were filed before the chambers of the ICTR; three have already been rejected by the Chamber judges.

The prosecutor has appealed against two of these rejections -- Gaspard Kanyarukiga and Yussuf Munyakazi, two former businessmen. The Prosecution has said that he would also appeal the third rejection. Two other transfer motions still pending are those concerning Jean-Baptiste Gatete, a former mayor and Fulgence Kayishema, a former police inspector, who is still on the run.

Mr Karegyesa said that the Appeals Chamber would have to ask itself whether "the legal framework installed by Rwanda was indeed properly taken into account by the first instance judges, and if this framework is sufficient".

In their separate decisions, the judges recognized "significant progress" by Rwanda's judiciary but considered that the country at this particular may not be able to hold fair trials for the suspects.

As long as a resolution granting additional time is not signed by the Security Council, officially, the ICTR mandate is due to end by the close of the year.

The transfer of defendants to national courts was part of the "completion strategy" decided by the United Nations Security Council (resolution 1503 of 28 August 2003). Currently eight detainees are awaiting their trials where as 13 top architects of the 194 genocide are still on the run, including Felician Kabuga, the alleged financier of the killings.


© Hirondelle News Agency