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RWANDA: International prosecutor will resist public pressure

Arusha, 14 January 2005 (IRIN) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Jallow, said on Friday he would not bow to pressure to prosecute members of the Tutsi-led forces that overthrew the government in Rwanda which was in power during the 1994 genocide.

The ICTR was created in 1994 to try key perpetrators of the genocide, during which hundreds of thousands of members of Rwanda's Tutsi minority and politically moderate were killed by the then armed forces and extremist militias from the Hutu majority.

"I work independently to seek for the truth," Jallow said in Arusha, northern Tanzania, in response to a recent threat by an expert academic witness to suspend cooperation with the tribunal.

Jallow has not indicted any members of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) or its army which is credited with halting the 100-day genocide and overthrowing the Hutu-led government. The professor, Filip Reyntjens who teaches courses on African Law and politics and is the author of a number of books on Rwanda, says the RPF also committed atrocities in the process of ousting the Hutu-led forces.

The RPF is now the party in power in Rwanda.

The ICTR is now "meting out victor's justice", the Hirondelle News Agency quoted Reyntjens as saying. Thus it "risks becoming part of the problem and not the solution ... I cannot any longer be involved in this process", he said.

However, Jallow said he would not allow Reyntjens "to interfere with the UN court’s duty to work independently ... I cannot allow the exercise of prosecution’s duty to come under any pressure from whomsoever,” he said.

Jallow’s predecessor at the ICTR, Carla Del Ponte, had said she would prosecute some RPF suspects, but never did. She came under intense pressure from the RPF government which blocked potential witnesses from going to testify in Arusha and denied Del Ponte a visa to visit the ICTR office in Kigali.

Jallow’s current strategy is to complete all pending cases before accepting new ones. Twenty-four cases have been completed with three acquittals, 20 convictions and one pending judgment. Twenty-five detainees are currently on trial while those of 18 other indictees are yet to begin.

Rwanda’s deputy prosecutor general, Martin Ngoga, said Jallow was actually investigating members of the RFP. "The issue continues to be discussed and handled by the tribunal’s prosecution and the government of Rwanda," Ngoga told IRIN. "We will continue to cooperate."

Theme (s): Human Rights,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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