Arusha, March 27, 2012(FH) – Protais Zigiranyirazo, acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2009 but still living in a safe house in Arusha, is seeking compensation of 1 million dollars and a visa to rejoin his family in Belgium.

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Zigiranyirazo, a brother-in-law of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana known as “Mr Z”, has filed an application before the ICTR, claiming the compensation for long detention and failure by the Tribunal to relocate him after his acquittal. The applicant seeks compensation for all or part of eight years and five months in jail, alleging that “he will forever be unable to regain that excessively long period of his life, almost a decade, where he was unable to earn a living, spend time with his wife, children or grandchildren”. Apart from the monetary compensation, the applicant also seeks an order that Belgium cooperate to allow him to return and reunite with his family. This follows unsuccessful negotiations between the ICTR Registry and the Belgian authorities. He argues that states' obligations to cooperate with the Tribunal also apply implicitly to a return after acquittal. “Mr. Z” further accused the ICTR Registry of negligence in dealing with Belgium when he was arrested there in 2001 by not ensuring his right to return if acquitted. “It is apparent that the Registry assumed that the applicant would be convicted and acted accordingly,” reads part of the motion. A Chamber has been designated to decide on the application and has directed the Prosecutor and the Registrar to file their submissions on the matter by April 18, 2012. Zigiranyirazo was arrested in Belgium on July 25, 2001 and transferred to the ICTR Detention Facility in Arusha on October 3, 2001. He was convicted of genocide and extermination on December 18, 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in jail, but was subsequently acquitted on appeal on November 16, 2009. Since then he has been living in the safe house under ICTR protection, alongside seven other acquitted or released persons. In September 2007, the Appeals Chamber of the Tribunal confirmed a first instance decision, ordering the registry to pay compensation of 2 000 dollars to genocide acquitted person and former Education Minister, Andre Rwamakuba, for violation of his rights to a counsel during the first months of his detention. FK/NI/GF/JC