7 February 2013

Rwanda Threatens to Expel ICTR Observers

Photo: This Day
Symbol of justice.

Arusha — Kigali on Thursday accused the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of having double standards, and threatened to throw out Tribunal observers monitoring the trial in Rwanda of Jean Uwinkindi, the first person transferred by the ICTR.

"It's unacceptable. It's double standards! If the Tribunal does not appoint observers for the two cases transferred to France, we will expel its observers here," Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga told Hirondelle.

At the end of 2007, the ICTR transferred to France the cases of Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a former parish priest in Kigali, and Laurent Bucyibaruta, former prefect of Gikongoro in southern Rwanda.

Pentecostal pastor Jean Uwinkindi was transferred to Kigali in April 2012.

"Why must our judicial system be monitored and not that of France, which hasn't done anything about these cases transferred so long ago? There is no fairness in that," continued Ngoga.

The ICTR - or, after its closure, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals - reserve the right to take back a case transferred to a country, if the conditions for a fair trial are not met.

"These conditions are met in our country," Ngoga said. "They (the judges) recognized this when they authorized transfers to Rwanda. But they can reverse their decision and take back the Uwinkindi case or halt implementation of the other transfer decisions, if that's what they want."

Tribunal officials declined to give an immediate reaction.

Ngoga also criticized again Monday's acquittal by the Appeals Court of two former Rwandan ministers who had been sentenced to 30 years in jail by the lower court.

"It doesn't make sense ! There are so many contradictions between the trial courts and the Appeals Court in several cases," he said. " Does that mean one chamber is weak and has wrongly convicted people, or that one chamber is weak and has acquitted individuals who are guilty? "

On Monday the ICTR Appeals Chamber acquitted former Trade Minister Justin Mugenzi and former Public Service Minister Prosper Mugiraneza, and they were immediately released.

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