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Wednesday, July 29, 1998 Published at 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK


World: Africa

Rwandan genocide court row

Up to a million civilians died in the 1994 massacres

East Africa Correspondent Martin Dawes reports from Nairobi on an extraordinary row between the international court trying Rwandan genocide suspects and one of its judges :

The tribunal was stung by an interview given by Judge Lennart Aspegren to the Reuters news agency in which it was reported that he was resigning because of the incompetence of the administration.

He was quoted as saying that judgements cannot be given in a timely fashion and that the victims in Rwanda are getting impatient.

Counter-attack

In an extraordinary move, the tribunal has hit back, with an eight-point rebuttall, saying that Judge Aspegren clearly found it difficult to work in a multi-cultural environment and that in one year, from January 1997, he had taken five months' paid leave.

The court says although the judge, who is on holiday in Sweden, has told the media that he intends to quit, no formal letter has been received.

The international tribunal, which is based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, has improved since a damning UN report outlined a saga of nepotism and financial mismanagement. But the administration is clearly sensitive.

Next month the first verdict is due to be announced, nearly four years after the tribunal was established.

Judge Aspegren is one of the three presiding judges in the case. But on Wednesday one official in Arusha accused him of treating the court with contempt.





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