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ICTR prisoners launch hunger strike to protest Rwanda case transfers

[JURIST] Approximately 40 inmates in a Tanzania prison awaiting trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] began a hunger strike Monday to protest the planned transfer of three ICTR cases to the national courts of Rwanda. In September, the ICTR prosecutor asked the tribunal to transfer the cases so that the prosecution could be completed before the end of the ICTR's mandate in December 2008. The prisoners complained in a letter dated October 5 that the Rwandan government could not ensure fair trials and asked the UN to either extend the ICTR's mandate or transfer the cases to countries other than Rwanda [JURIST news archive].

In August, the ICTR revoked [JURIST report] a previous order transferring the case against Michel Bagaragaza [TrialWatch profile; ICTR materials] to a local court in the Netherlands, after the country expressed doubt that its court system could handle the trial. The ICTR was established to try genocide suspects for crimes occurring during the 1994 Rwandan conflict [BBC backgrounder] between Hutus and Tutsis. The ICTR began the process of transferring genocide cases to Rwandan courts after the country abolished the death penalty [JURIST reports] earlier this year. Hirondelle News Agency has more. DPA has additional coverage.

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