The Minister of Justice of Belgium, Mr. Stefan de Clerck, will visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on 23 February 1998. Mr. de Clerck will be accompanied during his visit by his spouse, Mrs M-D Dejaeghere, his personal adviser, Mr. Geert Muylle, and the Ambassador of Belgium to Tanzania, Ms. Beatrix Van Hemeldonck.
During his visit Mr. de Clerck will meet with the President of the Tribunal, Judge Laïty Kama, and the Registrar, Mr. Agwu Ukiwe Okali. The Belgian Minister of Justice will also observe the testimony of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire in the trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu. General Dallaire will begin his testimony as a witness for the Defence in the Akayesu trial on 23 February .
General Dallaire was the Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) at the time of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. A total of 10 Belgian soldiers serving under Dallaire's command in UNAMIR were killed during the massacres of Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus that ensued after the death of former President Juvenal Habyarimana in a plane crash on 6 April 1994.
The Belgian Government has also applied to the Tribunal for authorization to present a submission, under the title of Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) in the The Prosecutor v Theoneste Bagosora. That trial is scheduled to begin on 12 March 1998. Theoneste Bagosora, former Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of Defence in Rwanda and later de facto Minister of Defence after the death of President Habyarimana, is one of 23 indicted persons in the custody of the ICTR at its Detention Facility in Arusha. In the indictment against him, Bagosora is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II thereto. Among other charges, Bagosora is alleged to have been responsible, by his acts and omissions, for the murder of the 10 Belgian troops serving in UNAMIR.
Rule 74 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Tribunal provides that: "a [trial] Chamber may, if it considers it desirable for the proper determination of the case, invite or grant leave to a State, organisation or person to appear before it and make submissions on any issue specified by the Chamber."
If the Government of Belgium makes an Amicus Curiae submission in the Bagosora case it would be the first time the procedure has been utilised in the Rwanda Tribunal.