Arusha, April 19, 2011 (FH) - The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has dismissed the appeal by former Rwandan Planning Minister, Augustin Ngirabatware, challenging  the Tribunal's Bureau decision over his motion for disqualification of judges trying the case against him.

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"The Rules do not provide for an interrogatory appeal to the Appeals Chamber of a decision taken by the Bureau pursuant to Rule 15 (B) of the Rules. The Appeals Chamber accordingly finds that it is not properly seized of this appeal. The Appeals Chamber dismisses the appeal," it said in its decision of April 18, 2011.

According to the Chamber, the Rule states that an application for disqualification is to be made to the Presiding Judge of the Chamber seized with proceedings. The Presiding Judge then confers with the Judge in question and if the party disputes his decision, the Bureau shall determine the matter afresh.

However, in Ngirabatware's case, Presiding Judge William Sekule was also a subject of the motion for the disqualification because he and other judges of the bench were biased and the Appeals Chamber recalled that he could not rule on the request. Under such a situation, he must have referred the issue to the Bureau.

The Bureau, in its decision dated January 25, 2011, found, among others, that the defence failed to establish any actual or apparent bias of the Trial Chamber composed of Judges Sekule, Solomy Bossa and Mparany Rajohnson.

In his appeal, Ngirabatware was asking the Appeals Chamber to reverse the Bureau's impugned decision and determine the disqualification motion afresh. He, alternatively, sought for remand of the matter for the appointment of a new panel of judges to determine the disqualification motion.

The appellant had advanced three supporting grounds of appeal to fault the Bureau's decision. They include error and misapprehension of the law, disregard of the defence submissions and mischaracterization of the evidence brought by the defence.

In its response, however, the prosecution had asked for summarily dismissal of the appeal in its entirety because Ngirabatware had no rights of appeal and had failed to identify any errors of law or of fact warranting appellate intervention.

The trial resumes on June 6, 2011 when Ngirabatware is expected to continue presenting his defence case. He is charged with genocide or in the alternative conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity.


© Hirondelle News Agency