Kigali, February 16, 2012 (FH) - Rwanda's Superior Council of the Judiciary on Wednesday set up a Special Chamber at the High Court to try international crimes. This Chamber is expected to try persons accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity transferred from foreign countries and from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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The High Court is the second highest court in the land after the Supreme Court.

The decision was taken at a meeting on Wednesday of the Superior Council of the Judiciary, chaired by Supreme Court president Sam Rugege, according to a statement from the spokesperson for courts and tribunals, Charles Kaliwabo.

The new Chamber will have 6 judges, including Athanase Bakuzakundi, who will be its president.

The first person expected to appear before the Special Chamber is Léon Mugesera, who was deported from Canada on January 24 this year after a long legal battle against extradition. Mugesera, had been living in Canada since 1993. He had been wanted by Kigali since 1995, notably in connection with a 1992 speech in which he allegedly incited Hutus to kill Tutsis. Mugesera denies the allegation, saying his words have been taken out of context.

At the time of the speech, Mugesera was vice-president in the Gisenyi prefecture (northwest Rwanda) of the former ruling party MRND.

The second person likely to appear before the Special Chamber is Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, the first person that the ICTR has decided to transfer to Rwanda for trial. The Tribunal's administrative authorities have until February 23 to effect his transfer from Arusha.

These two transfers could encourage other countries, notably in Europe, to send Rwandans accused of participating in the 1994 genocide back to face justice in their own country.


© Hirondelle News Agency