Sentenced respectively to 30 years and 35 years in prison, historian Ferdinand Nahimana and former Editor of extremist Kangura newspaper, Hassan Ngeze, will join in Mali six other ICTR prisoners, including the former Prime Minister of the interim government during the genocide, Jean Kambanda, sentenced to life in prison, who were transferred there in 2001.
Nahimana and Ngeze were tried in the so called "Media Trial", alongside Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza who is, along with Nahimana, one of the founders of the Radio Television Des Mille Collines (RTLM), infamous for its calls for hatred against Tutsis before and during the 1994 genocide.
Under tight escort, the two convicted travelled to Nairobi by road in night and embarked Wednesday morning aboard a commercial aircraft bound for western Africa. They were accompanied by police officers of the United Nations and head of the Arusha-based United Nations Detention Facility, Saidou Guindo, a source, who requested for anonymity, told Hirondelle Agency.
The transfer was confirmed by several defence lawyers. The operation had been in preparation for several days in the greatest of secrecy.
When questioned, ICTR spokesperson, Roland Amoussouga, confirmed:" ICTR started today (Wednesday) to transfer convicts to Mali where their sentences will be served". He declined any further details.
According to an agreement between the United Nations and Tanzania, convicted persons cannot remain in the host country's soil.
The UN special detention facility, on the outskirts of Arusha town, stilll hold 17 convicted persons who are waiting for a host country.
According to Article 26 of Statute of Tribunal, the sentences are served in Rwanda or in a country designated by the ICTR from the list of countries which have informed the Security Council that they were ready to receive convicts.
However, the Rwanda has persistently insisted that the Article makes Kigali the first destination for the convicted persons.
A prison facility is already in place in Rwanda to hold the convicted in accordance with the standards established by the United Nations.
Asked on the issue, Special Representative of Rwandan Government to ICTR, Aloys Mutabingwa, hinted that his country was going "to take measures in reaction to this breach of Article 26. We cannot continue tolerating breaches of the law".
The other countries that have signed an agreement with ICTR to host the convicted are: Italy, Benin, Swaziland, France, Sweden and Rwanda.
© Hirondelle News Agency