TRIBUNAL - The Government has sent a document containing proof to show the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that it has the capability to handle cases from the UN tribunal.
This comes after the tribunal requested Rwanda to prove its capacity to try one Fulgence Kayishema, an ICTR indicted fugitive, who is still at large.
“We have sent the document detailing our capacity to handle the case and we shall be waiting for what court will have to rule about it,” John Bosco Mutangana, the Spokesman of the Prosecutor General’s office, said yesterday.
The briefs that were sent to the tribunal will, according to Mutangana, be presented by a Rwandan official who is yet to be named.
But sources said that it might be presented by Aloys Mutabingwa, Rwanda’s special representative to the ICTR.
The case of Kayishema, a former judicial police officer, was the first to be requested for referral by the ICTR prosecutor to Rwandan jurisdiction under the rule 11 bis, which determines the transfer of files for cases from ICTR to the national jurisdiction.
Bubacar Jallow, the ICTR prosecutor, moved a motion to a trial chamber requesting for the referral of this case to Rwandan jurisdiction.
“We think this is the right time for us to demonstrate that we are in position to handle these cases given the reforms our judiciary has undergone,” Mutangana said.
According to Kayishema’s indictment, he is accused of Genocide, complicity in Genocide, complicity to commit Genocide and crimes against humanity for extermination.
According to agencies, the chamber had requested “details on the practical provisions which will be taken to guarantee the right of the defendant to legal aid, in the event of a transfer of the case to Rwandan courts”.
The bench also wanted to know if the fairness of the proceedings and the protection of the defendant will be the same as with the ICTR.
Rwanda is tipped as the probable destination for the remaining cases by the back-logged tribunal after its mandate expires next year for those cases in substance while appeals are supposed to have been completed by 2010.
In an effort to suit the international standards which are required to try these cases, Rwanda in February passed a special law waiving the death penalty on those suspects that would be transferred from ICTR and others that may be extradited from other countries.
However, the capital sentence was later scrapped at once from the Rwandan penal code in a bylaw that was passed in July.
Also in preparation for these cases, a modern prison was built in Mpanga in the Southern Province where these suspects will be detained.
Another transit facility is under construction at the Kigali Central Prison where suspects on trial will be temporarily detained within the course of their trials.
The special law that was passed in preparation for the ICTR suspect transfers provides that the trials will be taking place on first instance at Kigali High Court while appeals will be logged at the Supreme Court.
Another motion by Jallow to have three suspects in detention at the ICTR facility in Arusha, Tanzania, was filed recently.
The suspects are Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana and the former merchants Gaspard Kanyarukiga and Yussuf Munyakazi.
Established in 1995 by the UN Security Council, the tribunal has only rendered 32 judgments, five of which are acquittals.
Among the completed cases is that of former prime minister Jean Kambanda, who was sentenced to life imprisonment and is currently detained in Mali along with five other Genocide convicts.