Prosecutor acts to speed up ICTR trials

The new prosecutor for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Jallow, told the UN Security Council on Thursday that he had taken measures aimed at speeding up trials at the court, UN News reported.

"I have already put in place mechanisms for a review of the cases of those in detention without trial so far, the 16 indicted fugitives, the 26 targets of investigations, as well as the 40 cases for possible transfer to national jurisdictions," Jallow was quoted as saying when he briefed the 15-member council on the tribunal's work.

UN News reported that Jallow told the council that his office would use the rules of evidence and procedure designed to shorten trials, and that the court would need additional judges next year in order to meet this objective.

The council appointed Jallow on 4 September when it split duties of Carla Del Ponte who had been prosecutor for the ICTR and the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The council extended Del Ponte's contract as ICTY prosecutor.

Jallow told the council that he would be guided by the tribunal's statute, especially with regard to selecting for prosecution the people having the greatest responsibility for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that claimed the lives of at least 800,000 people.

Presently, the tribunal, based in Arusha, Tanzania, is conducting four trials, with 12 accused.

"The process of international criminal justice is, for many reasons, a difficult process, but it is a process which can and must be undertaken," Jallow was quoted as saying.

At the same time, UN News reported that ICTR President Judge Erik Mose told the council that a priority at the beginning of the court's third mandate has been to start new trials as soon as possible, and that the recent start of four new trials was a result of the council's creation of a pool of temporary judges to help the tribunal in its work.

However, Mose said much work remained to be done and that the tribunal was asking the council to amend the rule governing the number of temporary judges allowed to hear cases from four to nine.