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Monday, February 22, 1999 Published at 20:21 GMT

World: Africa

New judges for genocide tribunal

About 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed

Efforts have been made to speed up the work of the United Nations tribunal investigating the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

The tribunal has sworn in three new judges and opened a third courtroom.

[ image: Former Rwandan PM Jean Kambanda jailed for life]
Former Rwandan PM Jean Kambanda jailed for life
Five years after the court in Arusha, Tanzania, was founded to bring to justice those who had committed atrocities in Rwanda's civil war, judges have convicted just one man.

The painstakingly slow process has prompted Rwandan authorities and human rights groups to accuse the court of incompetence.

There will now be nine judges serving the tribunal, which was established in November 1994 following the slaughter in which at least 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

Life sentence

Two defendants have pleaded guilty to crimes of genocide, and a third has been convicted on the same charges. The latter has been sentenced to life in prison.

The tribunal took a 34th suspect into custody over the weekend when Ignace Bagilishema was transferred to Arusha from South Africa, where he had surrendered to authorities.

Tribunal spurns French and Canadian judges

The three judges sworn in Monday were Lloyd Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, Dionysios Kondylis of Greece and Pavel Dolenic of Slovenia. Judges Eric Mose of Norway and Mehmet Guney of Turkey will join later this year.

The tribunal has defended its recent decision to freeze the hiring of defence attorneys from Canada and France.

It issued a statement on Monday saying that allegations that the moratorium was imposed in order to hire more African lawyers were unfounded.

The court imposed the freeze late last year to achieve what it called a better geographical balance among defence counsels.

The court said that nearly half of all the court-appointed lawyers were Canadian or French.

The 1994 massacres erupted following the shooting down of a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi as it landed at the airport in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

Ex-Mayor on trial

Former Rwandan minister Casimir Bizimungu was seized by Kenyan authorities last week in Nairobi and was expected to be transferred to UN authorities in Arusha on Monday.

[ image: Amnesty International accused the tribunal of ineptitude]
Amnesty International accused the tribunal of ineptitude
Mr Bagilishema, former mayor of the western Rwandan town of Mabanza, is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the genocide.

He is accused of consenting to plans to kill all Tutsis in the region of Kibuye and ordering minority Tutsis into a Roman Catholic church and a stadium, knowing they would be targets for the extremist Hutu militia and government forces.

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