Arusha, December 6, 2012 (FH) - Tracking three top Rwandan fugitives wanted for genocide will remain a priority of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), its Prosecutor and President told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

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“The arrest and trial of these three fugitives is a top priority for the Mechanism,” said MICT President Theodor Meron, and urged the Security Council to assist in this respect. Meron was presenting the first progress report of the Mechanism since its Arusha branch started operating on July 1, 2012.

He said that while the Mechanism’s judicial activities will involve handling appeals cases inherited from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Mechanism will be prepared to conduct trials of three fugitives indicted by the ICTR whose cases have not been referred to national jurisdictions. Alleged financier of the genocide Félicien Kabuga, former Defence Minister Augustin Bizimana and former presidential guard commander Protais Mpiranya remain at large.

MICT Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow said tracking had been stepped up in the last six months and would not cease until the three were brought to justice, either before an international mechanism or an appropriate international jurisdiction.In his annex to the MICT progress report, Jallow says tracking efforts are focusing on the Great Lakes and southern African region. He says the work of the joint ICTR-Kenya Police Task Force, which was reactivated in November 2010, “remains slow” with regard to tracking the key fugitive Kabuga, but that recent media reports suggest Kabuga is still in Kenya. “Due diligence from Kenya in the discharge of its international obligations (…) would facilitate the location, arrest, transfer and trial of this high-level fugitive,” says the report.

The Mechanism was established by the UN Security Council in 2010 to carry out a number of essential functions of the ICTR and the ICTY after their closure. The MICT Arusha branch started functioning on July 1, 2012, while Meron said preparations were under way for the other branch in The Hague to start work on July 1, 2013. FK/JC