Arusha, 28 November,2008 (FH)-The Prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Justice Hassan Jallow, has underscored importance of national jurisdictions to try genocide suspects and to combat the culture of impunity.

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Opening the three-day forum of national and international prosecutors, policy makers and civil society members Wednesday, Justice Jallow said that national systems have to play critical role if progress was to be made in fighting impunity.

The forum which was closed on Friday was described as very successful by the prosecutors of the International ad hoc Tribunals of ICTR, International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Meanwhile Things got heated up on Thursday before Trial Chamber II of the ICTR at the beginning of the cross-examination of the French historian Bernard Lugan, when the latter, attacked by the prosecutor Moussa Sefon on his past, threatened to leave the court.

"Your Honour, I am a man of honour; whatever the consequences, I will leave", stated, the seemingly annoyed French professor.

Mr. Lugan came to testify as an expert at the request of General Augustin Bizimungu, the former chief of staff of the Rwandan army, and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, who commanded a company within an elite unit.

The historian, "with a brawling temper", according to his own words, took the bait when Sefon tried to oppose a curriculum vitae written by a French association and qualified as "false" by Lugan.

However shotly after the break the situation calmed down and Prof. Lugan apologised for the uncalled for exchange with the prosecuting counsel. The trial continues next Monday.

And in the six-man trial popularly known as "Butare Trial", former Rwandan Mayor, Elie Ndayambaje Wednesday described a Kinyarwanda word "gukora" literary meaning "to work" used during the 1994 genocide as propaganda against the Hutu elite.

Ndayambaje who is testifying on his own defence was responding to the Prosecuting counsel, Medeleine Schwart who wanted the defendant to comment on the suggestion that during the massacres in Butare prefecture the word "to work" meant killing ethnic-Tutsis.

"I am not in agreement Mr. President. I never have such understanding of the word "gukora". This is propaganda against Hutu elite," the witness told the three-man bench judges during the prosecution cross examination. The trial continues next Monday.

In another case this week against Callixte Kalimanzira, former Cabinet Director of Interior Ministry, 18 witnesses have so far testified in his defence most of whom gave evidence in closed sessions. This trial also continues next week.


© Hirondelle News Agency