The mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will be determined by the outcome of the appeals chamber concerning the transfer of cases to national jurisdictions. This was revealed by Richard Karegyesa, ICTR acting Chief of Prosecutions (OTP).
Speaking to the press in Belgium this week, Karegyesa said,“If we are not successful in the appeals, we will return to the UN Security Council to ask for an additional year until 31 December 2009.”
The ICTR prosecution has requested for the transfer to Rwanda of five cases to be tried in the country where the suspects are alleged to have committed their crimes.
Three of these requests have already been turned down by the ICTR trial chambers, citing incompetence of the judiciary in Rwanda.
The prosecutor has appealed against two of these rejections - Gaspard Kanyarukiga and Yusuf Munyakazi, two former businessmen who are charged with Genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity.
Two other transfer motions pending are: Jean-Baptiste Gatete, a former mayor, and Fulgence Kayishema, a former police inspector who is still on the run.
The detainees remain at the UN detention facility in Rwanda with trial proceedings in their cases halted until the issue of transfers is solved.
So far, only Rwanda has requested to have Genocide suspects tried in the country where the crimes were committed.
The ICTR is mandated by the UN Security Council to end trials by December 31, 2008, but on June 2, both the Prosecutor General Justice Hassan Bubacar Jallow and the president of the ICTR, Judge Dennis M. Byron, requested the UN Security Council to extend the mandate by at least one year.
Some members within the council have expressed concern at the slow pace of trials at the ICTR, and are sceptical that extending the mandate would make any difference. However, Karyegesa was optimistic that the additional time will be enough to handle all the pending cases.
Since the ICTR’s inception in 1994 to bring to justice masterminds of the Genocide in Rwanda, there have been 91 indictments issued by the office of the prosecutor, while 41 have been disposed of.
Addressing the UN Security Council recently, Byron said the court had earmarked four cases for referral; “13 accused are still at large,” he revealed.
He added that despite the recent additional workload in connection with the five accused, “the evidence phase of all remaining cases, but four, will be completed by the end of 2008, with judgments expected at the latest in 2009.”
Roland Amoussouga, the Spokesperson of the Tribunal, said that the Arusha-based court is still waiting for a response from the UN Security Council as far as the extension is concerned.