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New prosecutor for Rwandan war crimes

New prosecutor for Rwandan war crimes assesses work for Security Council

The new prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) told the Security Council today that he has put in place methods of reviewing dozens of cases so that he can soon determine realistic figures for the work to be completed.

"I have already put in place mechanisms for a review of the cases of those in detention without trial so far, the 16 indicted fugitives, the 26 targets of investigations, as well as the 40 cases for possible transfer to national jurisdictions," Hassan Bubacar Jallow, a former Supreme Court justice in the Gambia, said in an open briefing to the Council.

His office would try to use the rules of evidence and procedure designed to shorten trials, but certainly would need additional judges next year, Mr. Jallow said.

The Council appointed Mr. Jallow on 4 September after it split the Rwandan trials, which stemmed from the 1994 genocide, from the trials resulting from the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Prosecutorial duties for both tribunals previously had been handled by Carla Del Ponte, who now concentrates on the cases in the former Yugoslavia.

Mr. Jallow said he would be guided by the Statute of the Tribunal, especially with regard to selecting for prosecution the persons having the greatest responsibility for the tragedy in Rwanda.

The Tribunal was presently conducting four trials, with 12 accused and a large number of witnesses. On 3 November, it planned to bring to trial eight more accused, involving "a large number of people of political rank who were responsible, inter alia, for the planning of the genocide and instigating others to carry out the terrible events of that tragedy" he said.

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"The process of international criminal justice is, for many reasons, a difficult process, but it is a process which can and must be undertaken," he said.

ICTR President Judge Erik Møse told the Council that a priority at the beginning of the court's third mandate has been to start new trials as soon as possible, and that the recent commencement of four new trials was a direct consequence of the Council's creation of a pool of temporary judges to help the Tribunal in its work.

However, much work remains to be done, he added, and to help bolster its ability to complete the trials on time, the Tribunal was asking the Council to amend the rule governing the number of temporary judges allowed to hear cases from four to nine.

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