Arusha, 11 December 2008 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has transferred within a week, a total of nine of its 1994 genocide convicts to the republic of Mali to serve their sentences, it was learned on Thursday.

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The historian, Professor Ferdinand Nahimana, sentenced to 30 years in prison, and the former Director of an extremist Hutu Kangura newspaper, Hassan Ngeze, who received a 35-year jail term, arrived in Mali on December 3, the ICTR spokesperson, Roland Amoussouga told Hirondelle News Agency.

The seven others, including the former minister of Information, Eliézer Niyitegeka, and that of Higher Education, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, both sentenced to life in prison, were welcomed in their new prison on December 7, according to the same source.

The nine prisoners joined six other ICTR convicts including the former Prime Minister of the interim government in place during the genocide, Jean Kambanda, also sentenced to life in prison. This first group arrived in Bamako, the Malian capital, in 2001.

The transfer operation has been undertaken in great secrecy for several days. Amoussouga also indicated that the nine other convicts still in the United Nations Detention Facilities (UNDF) in Arusha "would be transferred soon to a country which would be selected by the President of the ICTR, judge Dennis Byron."

According to an agreement between the United Nations(UN) and Tanzania, the host country for ICTR, the convicts cannot serve their sentences in the Tanzanian territory.

Article 26 of the statute of the Tribunal stipulates that, "the sentences are served in Rwanda or in a country selected by the ICTR from the list of countries which have entered agreements with the UN body that they would be ready to receive convicts".

The Rwandan government has always pointed out that, according to this statute, the first destination for the convicts should be Rwanda. A prison has already been built in the south of the country in order to accommodate the would be prisoners of the ICTR in accordance with the standards established by the UN.

Besides Mali, six other countries, including Italy which hosted the former Italian-Belgian RTLM radio presenter, Georges Ruggiu, the only non Rwandan to be tried by the ICTR, signed the UN agreement on the enforcement of sentences.

The other countries which signed such an agreement, but have not yet received any convicts, are Benin, Swaziland, France, Sweden and Rwanda.


© Hirondelle News Agency