Arusha, 3 June, 2009 (FH)-Tanzania has offered to host trials and convicts of The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) when the Arusha-based United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) shuts down by end of this year.

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"We have UN-standards prison facilities and courts in Arusha," Tanzania's Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr Mathias Chikawe, told Hirondelle Agency Wednesday in a telephone interview from Dar es Salaam, the East Africa country's commercial capital.

Mr Chikawe made the offers during his meeting with the visiting President of the ICC, Sang-Hyung Song, on Tuesday.

"We had very frank and candid talks," he added.

Responding to the minister, the ICC President said the court would consider the government's offer.  "We shall consider Arusha for our future operations," said the ICC President, who was accompanied by Mr Phakiso Mochochoko, senior legal advisor to the ICC.

The ICC boss also held talks with Tanzania's President, Jakaya Kikwete and Foreign Minister, Bernard Membe, before leaving the country Tuesday night.

 The United Nations and its partners have spent millions of dollars to build courts and prison facilities in Arusha for the 1994 Rwanda-genocide accused persons.  The prison facilities, built on the outskirts of the Arusha town, can take 90 inmates at ago. It also has a gym, a library, dinning hall, medical room and rooms for conjugal visits.

The ICTR has constructed state-of-art four court rooms at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) complex in down-town Arusha. The ICTR has created a spacious parking for the judges and senior members of staff and has installed world-class communication and information technology. It has also set up a modest library and computer centre.

The UN Security Council has directed ICTR to complete all first instance trials by end of this year and appeals by next year.

The 100-day Rwanda-genocide, worst in modern century, claimed lives of about 800,000 innocent civilians, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The killings followed the shooting down of the plane which was carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana on 6 April, 1994. Also killed in the same plane was Burundi's President Cyprien Ntaryamira. Both of them were returning from a regional peace meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


© Hirondelle News Agency