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War Crimes Tribunal For Rwanda At 'All Time High'

Activity At War Crimes Tribunal For Rwanda At An 'All Time High' – Registrar

New York, Jul 1 2005 6:00PM

Activity at the United Nations war crimes court investigating cases stemming from the 1994 Rwanda genocide "was at an all-time high," with an unprecedented number of trials under way, Adama Dieng Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), said today.

The high level of activity was thanks to the full use of the Tribunal's nine ad hoc judges, the nine permanent judges and the addition of a fourth trial chamber which had been funded by the Governments of Norway and the United Kingdom, Mr. Dieng said today during a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

Judgements had been completed in the cases of 25 accused and 25 others were on trial. The defence was presenting its case in two of those trials, which involved 10 accused, and the prosecution had already called all its witnesses in another trial concerning four accused. Sixteen detainees were awaiting trial and their cases would begin as soon as trial chamber capacity permitted.

The appeals chamber had recently delivered three judgements involving our accused as well as numerous interlocutory decisions, he said. There were 57 accused at the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha. Out of the 69 people so far arrested. There were still 16 indictees at large and it was hoped that 10 of those fugitives, including 10 who were considered to have been ringleaders in the genocide, would be apprehended soon. The Tribunal had enjoyed considerable success in terms of arrests, thanks to the contribution of Member States who had been very forthcoming with their assistance.

Regarding other fugitives, he said there were indications that they were hiding in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It had been extremely difficult to apprehend them, considering the situation in that area, but the tracking team from the Office of the Prosecutor's had recently been reorganized so that it could focus on making arrests.

The ICTR Prosecutor had recently been in contact with authorities in Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and Kenya, Mr. Dieng said. Shortly before Mwai Kibaki's succession to the Kenyan presidency, the tracking team had been able to trace Félicien Kabuga, a fugitive whose name had been mentioned in the Security Council. There had been indications in the Kenyan media that he might have returned to that country and efforts to apprehend him were continuing.

He said the Prosecutor had also started the process of referring cases to national jurisdictions and had handed over 15 dossiers to the Rwandan Government in February. However, those did not include cases in which the accused that had already been indicted. For its own part, the Registry continued to give its steadfast support to the judicial process through its daily servicing of the chambers, the prosecution and the defence.

The Registry also gathered support from Member States and other international institutions, he said, recalling that two years ago he had met with President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and drawn his attention to the presence of fugitives between Lubumbashi in the south-east and the capital, Kinshasa. The President's cooperation had resulted in two arrests. Fugitives easily crossed national borders between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Kenya and Congo. The Tribunal had arrested a former general in Angola less than two years ago.

Asked why the Tribunal was optimistic that it could find the 10 out of 16 indicted fugitives still at large and whether this meant that if 10 were arrested by the time the Tribunal wrapped up, the remaining six would escape justice, Mr. Dieng clarified that there were 16 suspects under investigation, indictees awaiting trial and 10 fugitives still at large.

The reason for optimism was the development of a close relationship between the Tribunal and the African Union, which entailed understandings regarding special judicial measures to accompany policies on disarming the Interahamwe militia and former Forces armies rwandaises (ex-FAR) members responsible for the genocide who were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Another reason for optimism was a commitment by Condoleezza Rice, United States Secretary of State who had met in Washington recently with ICTR officials.

Asked what specific promise she had made, Mr. Dieng replied that Ms. Rice had said she would contact those heads of state whose names the Prosecutor had mentioned to her so that she could secure their cooperation through diplomatic channels.

ENDS

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