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Rwanda genocide tribunal transfers prisoners to Benin to serve sentences

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] on Wednesday announced [press release] that nine prisoners were transferred Saturday to a detention facility in Benin to serve their sentences. A May 18 order by ICTR President Sir Dennis Byron [official profile] requested the transfer from the UN Detention Facility at Arusha, Tanzania to Beninese custody. The prisoners, including former Kigali-Rural governor Francios Karera, Catholic priest Athanase Seromba, and former lawmaker Aloys Simba [JURIST reports], were sentenced by the tribunal to terms ranging from 11 years to life in prison.

The ICTR, set to expire in 2010, was established to try genocide suspects for crimes occurring during the 1994 Rwandan conflict [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive] between Hutus and Tutsis in which approximately 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, died. In May, Byron submitted a plan [letter, PDF] for the ICTR, which extends trial stages through 2009 and reserves the final year of the court's mandate for appellate orders and responses. In March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] pledged his ongoing support [JURIST report] for the ICTR and stressed that the international community must continue to combat genocide.

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