08.09.05 - ICTR/ACQUITTED - TWO PEOPLE ACQUITTED ACCUSE TRIBUNAL OF FAILING TO FIND THEM HOST COUNTR

Arusha, September 7th, 2005 (FH) - Two former senior Rwandan officials who were acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Wednesday accused the tribunal of “not doing enough” to secure a host country for them.

The minister of transport and communications Andre Ntagerura and the former Préfet (Governor) of Cyangugu (south-western Rwanda), Emmanuel Bagambiki were acquitted February 25, 2004.

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Since then, they have been kept in a “safe house” in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha because they have failed to find a country to take them in.

“We believe that the Registrar has not done all in his power to supplement our lawyers’ efforts in finding us a host country”, the two said in a letter seen by Hirondelle News Agency.

“We demand that the Registrar finds us a host country and that our rights to freedom be fully exercised”, they added.

“The Registrar and his office have done all they could. Lawyers of the two acquitted people are aware of the fact”, replied Roland Amoussouga, spokesman of the ICTR.

“Negotiations are going on with the governments of the countries that they stated they wanted to go to, but nothing tangible has come up”, he explained.

According to Amoussouga, the problem is that “states have no obligations to receive people acquitted by the ICTR. The issue is not mentioned anywhere in the statutes of the tribunal”, although states have a duty to cooperate with the tribunal in the arrest and transfer of suspects wanted by the tribunal.

On the day he was released, Bagambiki had stated his wish to rejoin his wife who lives in Belgium, where she has become a citizen. His request was turned down, and he has appealed.

According to reliable sources who wished to remain anonymous, Ntagerura had asked to go to France, where the first person to be acquitted by the ICTR, Ignace Bagilishema, is living.

KN/ER/AT