Arusha, January 20, 2011 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has asked Rwandan government nine questions to justify its readiness to receive and try cases from the Tribunal, created by UN Security Council to prosecute key perpetrators of the 1994 genocide.

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On November 4, 2010, the Prosecutor of ICTR filed three new applications for referral of cases to Rwanda for trial involving Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, detained at the UN Detention Facility in Arusha and Fulgence Kayishema and Charles Sikubwabo, who are still on the run.

A referral bench has already deferred proceedings for Kayishema, former judicial police inspector of Kivumu commune in Kibuye prefecture (Western Rwanda) and Sikubwabo, ex-mayor of Gishyita commune in the same prefecture, pending their arrest or final determination of Uwinkindi's case.

In the case of Uwinkindi, another referral bench Tuesday entered a decision, inviting Rwanda to appear as amicus curiae (friend of court) and requested her to answer nine questions to assess whether the accused would receive a fair trial.

The questions include whether Rwandan legal system was able in practice to provide the accused adequate legal representation, financial support to an indigent accused and facilitate security, travel and investigations for defence.

It also seeks to know whether there were any impediments defence may face in discharging its function and what facilities and procedures exist for ensuring witnesses and victims are securely and safely accommodated and transported to trial places.

The Tribunal wants to know whether Rwanda's witness protection programme functional was in practice, the detention facilities for accused persons comply with international standard and were there any threats the prosecution or defence witnesses could face before, during and after testifying.

It requests to know what procedures exist for procurement and facilitation of safe and secure travel for witnesses, particularly from Rwandan witnesses residing abroad and such witnesses would be able to benefit from a safe passage to and from Rwanda.

Furthermore, it seeks to know whether Rwandan regulations governing arrest and detention of accused would be afforded to Uwinkindi the same protection as what applied by Tribunal.

In another decision entered the same day, the Tribunal allowed Human Rights Watch (HRW) to appear in Uwinkindi's case as amicus curiae. In the first five similar applications filed in 2007, the non-governmental organization had also appeared aa a freind of the court. The motions were dismissed by ICTR chambers.

The Rwandan government and the organization have been directed to file their amicus brief within 21 days of the date of the decision.


© Hirondelle News Agency