02.12.09 - ICTR/NTAGERURA - FATE OF RWANDA GENOCIDE-ACQUITTED PERSONS TO BE TABLED BEFORE UN

                                                                                                                                                                               

Arusha, December 02, 2009 (FH) - The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR),Justice Dennis Byron, among other issues, is expected to present a report on Thursday before the UN Security Council on the fate of genocide-acquitted persons who have failed to get a host country.

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‘'This question needs urgent consideration. President Byron is going to use this opportunity to call again on UN member states to receive the acquitted persons,'' a highly-placed source, who requested for anonymity, hinted to Hirondelle Agency Wednesday.

He added: "It is these states which created this court [ICTR]. They have an obligation to execute their decisions, including hosting  them [the acquitted].''

Justice Byron made similar appeal before the UN General Assembly in New York on October 8, this year, over acquitted former Rwandan Transport and Communications Minister, Andre Ntagerura, and former top army officer, General Gratien Kabiligi.

The two last month were joined by Protais Zigiranyirazo, a brother-in-law of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, and Catholic-priest Hormisdas Nsengimana.

However, the longest of them all is Ntagerura, who was acquitted in February 2004 and confirmed by the appeals court in February 2006. Ntagerura wishes to be hosted by Canada, France or Netherlands and the United States.

Ntagerura's first choice of relocation was France, which apparently after several years of formal and informal requests,  advised the Tribunal it was not in the position to admit Ntagerura. His second choice, Canada, has also been foot-dragging.

‘'I have my wife and a son in France. One of my sons is a French citizen,'' he said in an interview to Hirondelle Agency, adding that he also has two sons in Netherlands-and both naturalized citizens. Ntagerura's wife has yet to acquire a refugee status in France. He last saw his three sons before his arrest in Cameroon in March, 1996 and his wife in early 2007, he recalls.

‘'I can live in any of these two countries,'' stressed the 59-year-old Ntagerura, who mostly spends his morning hours at the ICTR premises since his acquittal and lives in a safe house allocated to him by the ICTR. ‘'I can't do much...I ply between my safe house and ICTR until a solution is found to this abnormality of my unfortunate fate,'' he added.

Ntagerura reiterated his request to the ICTR and the international community to speedily conclude his relocation.

‘'For how long will I continue like this...it is now approaching six years since I was set free by an international court and yet I can't be re-located...I'm still a prisoner in a way,'' he lamented.

However four other acquitted persons got host countries. Former Mayors Ignace Bagilishema and Jean Mpambara are in France; former Cyangugu Prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki is in Belgium; and former Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Andre Rwamakuba in Switzerland.

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© Hirondelle News Agency