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The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda held a press conference at its head office in Arusha on Friday 6 June

The conference, attended by local and international journalists, was addressed by the President of the Tribunal, Judge Laïty Kama; Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald of the Appeals Chamber in The Hague; Mr. Agwu Ukiwe Okali, the Registrar and Mr. Bernard A. Muna, the Deputy Prosecutor.

Among issues raised by the journalists was concern about the slow pace of the Tribunal’s work. The Tribunal managed to allay the fears by explaining that there were legal and technical reasons which dictated the pace.

First it was explained that this was the first time since 1948, when the Genocide Convention was adopted, that it was being used The Tribunal therefore had to set up a whole new machinery which has, within a short period of time, come up with 14 confirmed indictments against 21 accused, 13 of whom are detained, 12 of them in Arusha.

Judge McDonald for example told the Press that only recently, and after four years, was the first case concluded at the UN-ICTR's counterpart for Yugoslavia, UN-ICTY.

Secondly it was explained that the Tribunal respected the principle of presumption of innocence on the part of the accused until the Prosecutor proves his or her culpability.

The Tribunal also upholds the right of the accused to have a proper defence. The Tribunal has to provide a fair trial and offer basic justice to the accused.

Meanwhile the Tribunal told members of the Press that a temporary second courtroom should be in place by August this year, while a permanent second courtroom will be ready by the end of December this year. The second courtroom will obviously speed up the proceedings as two court sessions will then be able to take place simultaneously.

Also it was explained that work on the new Detention facility at the Arusha prison was progressing smoothly and should be completed by the end of this month.

On the relationship between the Tribunal and the Rwandan government, President Laïty Kama told journalists that following his recent meeting with the Rwandan President, Bizimungu, it was realised that the lack of communication between the two had hampered smooth operations. He said they agreed to work together to improve the relationship and cooperate, and this was why a high-powered delegation of judges from the Tribunal and the Appeals Chamber in The Hague would visit Rwanda before the end of this month.

For information only - Not an official document

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