Arusha, 23 February, 2009 (FH) - The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon , is scheduled to visit on Friday  the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) , trying key suspects of the 1994 genocide, as part of his three-day official tour of Tanzania.

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This will be the first time for the South-Korean UN boss to visit the Tribunal since his election to head the UN body in October 2006. He is expected to fly in from Zanzibar, Tanzania's semi-autonomous island. He is expected to spend about two hours during his quick trip to Arusha before departing for Dar es Salaam.

ICTR Spokesman, Roland Amoussouga, told reporters Monday that, among other things, the UN boss would meet the Tribunal's staff members, without elaborating.

However, according to observers, among issues expected to feature at the meeting would be the new directive by the UN Security Council to end all first instance trials by end of the year.

An earlier directive wanted the UN Court to complete all first instance trials by December, 2008, something which could not be achieved. Another issue expected to come up for discussions was high rate of departures by professional ICTR staff, which might affect the new completion strategy.

ICTR was established by the UN Security Council 15 years ago and is the first international tribunal since the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg (1946) to hand down a judgement against a head of government. It is also the first international Tribunal to interpret the definition of genocide set forth in the 1948 Geneva Conventions.

The UN Court, which is the largest single undertaking by the global body in Tanzania, has so far convicted 37 persons and acquitted six. Trials for nine detainees have yet to start whereas trials for 23 accused are underway.

According to UN estimates, the 100-day slaughter left nearly 800,000 dead, most of whom were Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Ban Ki-moon's five-nation African tour will take him also to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Egypt.  


© Hirondelle News Agency