Rwanda: ICTR 'Concerned' By Cases Transferred to France

Arusha — The two cases transferred to France remain "of concern" to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), according to new Registrar Christopher Bongani Majola of South Africa.

The Tribunal transferred the cases of genocide suspects Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and former prefect Laurent Bucyibaruta to the French judicial authorities in 2007, but neither case has yet come to trial.

Both men are living in France. Munyeshyaka, who has already been convicted in absentia by a Kigali court, was parish priest at Sainte Famille church in Kigali during the 1994 genocide. Bucyibaruta was prefect of Gikongoro, in southern Rwanda.

The Rwandan authorities continue to denounce the slowness of French justice in these cases, and accuse France of protecting genocide suspects. It recently threatened to expel ICTR staff monitoring a case transferred to Rwanda, unless the Tribunal also sent monitors to France.

"At the time of their transfer, the ICTR Rules permitted that the Prosecutor establish a monitoring mechanism, which he did," said Registrar Majola. "The ICTR Prosecutor, Mr Hassan Bubabcar Jallow and delegation travelled on several occasions to France, where they met with the French Judicial Authorities to discuss the progress of those cases."

Before becoming Registrar, Bongani was Deputy Registrar of the Tribunal.

"ICTR was made to understand that under the French legal system, the investigation phase takes longer time, while the trial is often conducted in a short span of time," Bongani added. "The French judicial authorities also informed the ICTR that the recent establishment of a Special Unit composed of 3 magistrates, in charge of investigating and preparing cases of genocide and crimes against humanity for trial, will now enable a speedy adjudication of the two cases. ICTR has also received an indication that one of them is almost ready for trial."

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