ICTR mulls plea bargain with man accused of ’94 Genocide

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is currently involved in negotiations with Michel Bagaragaza so that the 1994 Rwanda Genocide suspect can plead guilty to his crimes.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is currently involved in negotiations with Michel Bagaragaza so that the 1994 Rwanda Genocide suspect can plead guilty to his crimes.

Court insiders speaking on condition of anonymity said that preparations are underway for Bagaragaza to change his plea to guilty when he makes his second appearance on July 4. He pleaded ‘not guilty’ at his initial court appearance on August 16, 2005 to three counts on which he was indicted.

Bagaragaza is accused of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, or alternatively complicity in genocide, for which he made his initial appearance on  August 15, 2005.

He is said to have been one of the technical and mobilisation figures in managing the crucial stages of the planning and implementation of the 1994 Genocide. He surrendered to the ICTR in a complex deal between himself and the Office of the Prosecution (OTP).

Bagaragaza’s case has taken him on a world tour so far, having been a subject to three national jurisdictions and two international tribunals; Arusha and The Hague.

The nature of the case has been explained as necessary due to security problems related to the decision by Bagaragaza to surrender to the Tribunal.

“The prosecutor’s office does not want to publicize its dealings before they are completed because that could have an impact on the outcome of his other investigations,” Roland Amoussouga, the Spokesman of the UN court said.

Michel Bagaragaza voluntarily surrendered to the ICTR in Arusha on  August 16, 2005, as part of an “amicable arrangement” the terms of which the prosecution refused to disclose.

Bagaragaza’s case was one of the few cases presented at the recent UN Security Council meeting in New York by ICTR President Judge Dennis M Byron as he informed the UN Security Council on the UN mandated court about its recent completion strategy report.

Byron noted that Bagaragaza’s case was one of several which have an impact on the mandate of the court.

The June 2008 Completion Strategy document lists Bagaragaza’s case as a guilty plea and does not highlight the date upon which trial procedures will start. The OTP will formalize the deal in Trial Chamber Two.

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