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UN lawyer hints at transfer of genocide suspects to Rwanda for trials

[JURIST] UN Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs Pamela O'Brien [official profile] apparently signaled a shift in official UN position by expressing sympathy for Rwanda's desire to try any remaining genocide suspects in Rwanda after the International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] is supposed to stop functioning in 2010, according to a Monday report [New Times report]. O'Brien, who was visiting the Rwandan capital Kigali, met last week [press release] with ICTR president Judge Dennis Byron, prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow, as well as Rwandan prosecutor general Martin Ngoga and discussed setting up a "residual mechanism" to deal with future genocide suspects, such as the thirteen fugitives [New Times report] still at large, once the tribunal is expected to shut down [JURIST report] in 2010 as per a UN resolution [text, PDF]. O'Brien also added that the decision would have to be made by the UN Security Council and the ICTR judges.

The UN resolution had called for "all trial activities at first instance" to end by 2008, leaving the status of those suspects who had been arrested but not tried, such as Jean-Baptiste Gatete [TrialWatch profile], in limbo. The ICTR had earlier denied [decision; JURIST report] Rwanda's request to transfer Gatete into its custody because of fears that he would not get a fair trial in Rwanda. There was concern that he might not be able to call on witnesses residing outside Rwanda or that the these witnesses might be afraid to testify for the defense.

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