Rwanda not perturbed by ICTR suspects’ strike

The Government is not bothered by the on-going hunger strike by Genocide suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, (ICTR).

The Government is not bothered by the on-going hunger strike by Genocide suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, (ICTR).

Currently, at least 40 of the 55 detainees at the Arusha-based UN court’s detention facility are on a hunger strike, in protest of the impending transfer of three of their cases to Rwanda.

According to John Bosco Mutangana, the Spokesman for Rwanda’s Prosecution, the suspects cannot in anyway influence the ICTR judges on the matter.
“The strike is absolutely unfounded and we believe they will not influence the decision of the judges,” Mutangana said.

He said that the fact they are protesting coming to Rwanda is because they are aware of the atrocities they committed in the country.

Last month, the ICTR chief prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow filed the request to transfer to Rwanda Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana, former businessmen Gaspard Kanyarukiga and Yussuf Munyakazi, all accused of Genocide crimes.

Subsequently, the panel of judges requested Rwanda to prove their competence to try these cases by presenting a document containing their proof. The document was sent to the Tanzania-based tribunal last week but according to Mutangana, it has not been presented to the court yet.

The suspects, according to agencies, are striking demanding that the mandate of the tribunal be extended to accommodate their trials.

The backlogged court has been instructed by the UN Security Council to wind up their activities on first instance trials by 2008 and appeals by 2010.

Rwanda, which is the prime candidate to inherit the trials, has among other things passed a special law that will govern the conduct of the transfer-bound cases.

This law was passed in February, just four months before the country abolished the death penalty from its laws altogether.
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