Arusha, 10 October, 2008 (FH)-The Appeals Court of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has upheld decision of the Lower Court to deny Prosecutor's request to transfer genocide accused former businessman, 73-year-old Yusuf Munyakazi, to stand a trial in Kigali as part of the UN Court's completion strategy.

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In a decision rendered on 8 October, the Presiding Judge Fausto Pocar dismissed three of the four grounds of the prosecution's appeal in its 20-page ruling, reports Hirondelle Agency.

He added that the Appeals Chamber finds that the Trial Chamber did not err in denying the Prosecution's request to refer Munyakazi's case to Rwanda in May, this year.

Observers consider that Appeals Chamber ruling will impact other two similar pending appeals, which are yet to be decided-- former Commander of Ngoma Camp Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana and businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga. The transfer motions of Former Mayor Jean Baptist Gatete and former Inspector of Judicial Police, Fulgence Kaysihema, are yet to be heard before the first instance courts. The latter is still at large.

Meanwhile, A former Rwandan cabinet minister wanted for war crimes committed during the 1994 genocide was Wednesday transferred to Arusha, Tanzania, after a prolonged one-year legal battle in Germany.

The former Planning Minister, Augustin Ngirabatware, 50, is suspected of encouraging the mass murder of members of Rwanda's Tutsi minority by arming the Hutu majority. He was arrested in September, last year and during his initial appearance on Friday, he has pleaded not guilty to ten counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

In another development, 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. The prosecutor had recognized in June the existence of a draft genocide 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 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.

The Military II Trial, Captain Innocent Sagahutu, accused of genocide will begin his defence on 20 October, the last of the four defendants of the case. His former immediate superior, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, who was with the head of this elite unit, left the witness stand Wednesday evening at the end of his three days of his own defence testimony.

This week, the three-bench trial judges, prosecution and defence teams in a joint case, also known as "Government II" of four former Rwandan ministers, underwent a week-long visit of alleged massacre sites in Rwanda.


© Hirondelle News Agency