Arusha, 8 October 2008 (FH) - The negotiations of a guilty plea agreement between the Office of Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and defendant and key witness, Michel Bagaragaza, has failed, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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The prosecutor had recognized in June the existence of a draft guilty plea agreement with the accused, a close associate of the family of the former President Juvenal Habyarimana, but had refused to reveal it while waiting for it to be validated by a Chamber.

The judges had followed this reasoning by refusing two requests of disclosure of the agreement, including one from Joseph Nzirorera, former secretary general of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), the former presidential party.

"Because those negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful", this heavy hitter of the Habyarimana regime requested the reconsideration of the decision, notes the Chamber, in the introduction of its new order.

The three judges before whom Nzirorera and his two co-defendants appear, consider, in the text posted on the website of the Tribunal, that the collapse of the negotiations between the prosecutor and Bagaragaza, "constitutes a new fact". Also, they ordered the prosecutor to communicate the text "inter partes (between the parties) and confidentially".

Prosecuted himself for his alleged role in the genocide, Bagaragaza, 54, head of the tea company in Rwanda in 1994, is, in particular, accused of having contributed to create, finance, train and arm the Interahamwe militia, the main armed wing of the massacres which resulted, according to the UN, in nearly 800 000 killed, primarily Tutsis.

The former economic official, who feared for his safety after having testified against other ICTR defendants, had been detained in The Hague, Netherlands, since his arrest in 2005 until his transfer to the ICTR in May, after the cancellation of the transfer of his case to Dutch courts.

A first motion aiming at transferring him to Norway was rejected by the ICTR judges. The prosecutor had then turned to The Netherlands which had agreed to try the case.

But the transfer to the Scandinavian kingdom was cancelled in August 2007 by the ICTR judges, on request of the prosecutor himself who feared that Dutch courts who declared that they did not have jurisdiction.

Bagaragaza undoubtedly hoped, in his attempts to be tried in Europe, to see himself inflicted a sentence less severe than at the ICTR.


© Hirondelle News Agency