Arusha, November 8, 2013 (FH) – The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will not be able to meet its December 31, 2014 closure deadline set by the United Nations, Hirondelle learned Friday.

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Although the Tribunal has finished its lower courts trials, it is now handling its last appeals. These include the case of former Family Affairs Minister Pauline Nyiramashuko, her son Arsène Shalom Ntahobali and four others. Nyiramasuhuko is the only woman held by the ICTR and the only woman charged with genocide before an international court.

According to a report on the ICTR website, the Appeals Chamber decision in this complicated and important joint case “is expected to be delivered in July 2015”.

The report attributes the delay mainly to the need for translations of certain legal documents.

Nyiramasuhuko and her son were sentenced to life imprisonment by the lower court on June 24, 2011. That day, the judge read out only a summary in English of the judgment. The full text, 1,500 pages in English, came out three weeks later. The Chamber was made up of two English-speaking judges and one French-speaking judge.  However, the six convicts do not understand English and needed a French translation to prepare their appeals arguments. They only got this in February this year.

According to the Tribunal Registry, all the appeals have now been filed, but it is possible that one or other of the convicts may file a request for authorization to bring additional evidence for the appeal. The Appeals Chamber has to read all the documents before it sets the date for oral hearings.

At a meeting with the parties last May, Judge Fausto Pocar said he did not expect the appeals hearings to take place before summer 2014.

The ICTR Appeals Chamber is also handling four other cases involving a total of nine individuals, civilians and army officers, who were all convicted by the lower court. It hopes to deliver its judgments in these cases by December 31, 2014.

Civilians in these cases include Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, former president and vice-president respectively of the former ruling party MRND of Juvénal Habyarimana, the ex-head of state whose assassination triggered the 1994 genocide.

Military figures include the former heads of the army and gendarmerie, Generals Augustin Bizimungu and Augustin Ndindiliyimana.