Arusha, 29 May, 2009 (FH)-The Italian government is said to have breached the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) by giving an early release to genocide-convicted, Italian-Belgian Journalist, Georges Ruggiu, reports Hirondelle Agency.

1 min 50Approximate reading time

Ruggiu, who was serving final one year of his 12-years sentence in Italy, was supposed to be released on 20 July, this year.

However, the release comes in violation of the Article 27 of the UN Court's Statute, which clearly stipulates that only the ICTR President can decide on an early release to any convict, no matter where the sentence was being served.

"According to information gathered informally by the Tribunal from local judicial authorities in Italy, Mr Ruggiu was released on 21 April 2009,'' ICTR Spokesman, Roland Amoussouga, told Hirondelle Agency Thursday.

He underscored that ICTR to date has not received any response to two official communications sent to the Italian Minister for Justice as required under the provision of an agreement between Italy and the United Nations on the enforcement of the ICTR sentences.

Ruggiu was transferred from Arusha to Italy in February, last year. He was the only foreigner charged before ICTR with genocide and crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, the prosecution in the trial of former Rwandan sub-prefect, Dominique Ntawukulilyayo, Tuesday concluded its case after fielding a total of 12 witnesses to support allegations against the accused charged for genocide and crimes against humanity before ICTR.

The defence is expected to file its briefs by August 7 and the case was planned to resume on September 14.

In another development, two trials were adjourned this week to June.

The Trial Chamber III Thursday adjourned to June 22 the hearing of the case of three former leaders of the then Rwandan ruling party in 1994 MRND, jointly charged for genocide and crimes against humanity at the UN Tribunal.

Judge Dennis Byron of St. Kitts and Nevis adjourned the hearing after the former Rwandan Interior Minister, who was also then the Vice-President of MRND, Edouard Karemera, one of the accused in this trial had concluded his testimony. Karemera was the 34th defence witness.

On resumption, the court would continue with the defence case of Joseph Nzirorera, former MRND Secretary General. Also accused in the trial is the former president of the party, Mathew Ngirumpatse, who is hospitalized in Nairobi, Kenya for several months now.

The first trial which started in November 2003 was cancelled in May 2004 following allegations of partiality, compelling the case to restart on September 19, 2005.

The other trial adjourned Wednesday to June 15 was of former Rwanda military officer, Lt. Col. Ephrem Setako. So far 24 protected defence witnesses have testified in the trial.

On resumption, the defence will continue with testimonies of its last bunch of witnesses.

Lead defence counsel for accused, American Professor Lennox Hinds, told Hirondelle News Agency that he still has at least ten defence witnesses to testify, including Setako himself.

Prosecution ended its case on April 22, 2009 after fielding 20 witnesses.


© Hirondelle News Agency